Wicked Tales: Jack's JourneybyRedHairedandFriendly©
Author's Note: This is my adult version of that man who took a hike up a beanstalk. I do hope you enjoy this newest Wicked Tale. This tale is not loaded with sex, but it is still a fun addition. If you've not checked out the other adult takes on childhood fairy tales, I encourage you too. Remember not only the Wicked Tales series, but the Fairy Tale Fantasy series will provide you with all types of debauchery. It is recommended that one reads the Fairy Tale Fantasy stories by their submission dates. Wicked Tales can be read in any order. Enjoy ~ Red.
Maggie stared out the window as the storm outside continued to pour down. She felt it sting at her face, eventually forcing her to close the shutters and turn away. Hard coughs suddenly pulled themselves from her lungs and she wiped at the spittle that was brought forth.
"Where are you?" she asked the night air, thinking of her son; no answer greeted her. Maggie reached for the lantern and turned its wick down. She shuffled back to her room and pulled off her robe. Under the covers she curled up and tried to push her worries away as another group of coughs plagued her.
Jack laughed as he pushed the doors of the tap room open and stumbled out. He felt the woman's arm wrapped tight around his waist and pulled her head back, exposing her neck to the raindrops that were pelting their drunken forms. He kissed the beating pulse, ran his tongue up to her ear and tugged on the soft lobe. "Mmm. . .Jack," she moaned. Her palm slid down his chest and rested at the waistband of his pants.
Another woman leaned into his back and purred his name. Jack laughed, hugged both women and turned them toward the Inn. Once inside the warm room, he rented for the night, Jack found himself quickly divested of his clothes. Fingers and hands moved up and down his thick muscular form. Mouths worked to bring him to a frenzied state of release and as the storm flowed on outside, Jack did so inside.
Morning came and with it the sound of nature filled the air. Jack walked down the path that led him through the forest and back to the edge of his family's lands. He hadn't been back for several years and was surprised to gaze upon a rickety cottage that had once been bright and cheerful. What stood before him now was a building that showed its age. A frown crossed his face as he walked through the fields, noting that the crop had never been planted. In fact the more distance he covered, the more sure he felt that crops had not graced the fields for years.
A sense of uneasiness crept into him and he quickened his steps. The absence of his father in the fields worried him. The haunting sound of silence when he reached the barnyard filled him with dread. Where were the animals? Where was his father? Where was his mother? What had happened in his absence?
Jack reached the threshold of the cottage and pushed the door open. "Mother?" he called into the darkness. No answer came to him as he hurried through the cottage and darted into his mother's room. Jack saw the curled figure on the bed. The apprehension he felt rushed out of his body with a long sigh. He smiled and made his way to her side, pausing to open the shudders and let the sunlight flood the small room. A soft moan caught his attention and he pulled up a stool, rested it next to his mother's bed and whispered, "I'm home."
Maggie moaned again, and rolled to her back. Her eyes opened and Jack stared into them. "Mother?" he said again, reaching out and brushing her coarse curls away. Immediately his eyes grew wide in shock. "How long?" he asked as he took in her flushed appearance, sunken eyes and fevered flesh.
"Jack?" Maggie whispered, her tired blue eyes gazed into those of her son. "Is it..." She coughed hard and long and Jack helped her sit up in order for her to clear her lungs better. When she was done she fell back against his strong arm, which he used to support her till he lowered her back down to where she wanted to rest. "It really is you," she whispered, "I thought I was dreamin' again."
Jack smiled and touched her gray curls, pushing several of them behind her ear. "Mother. Where is Father?" he asked, before pulling his hand away.
"He's gone Jack. He's been gone for three years. Everythin' is gone. The crops. The animals. The larder grows empty. I tried Jack. I tried so hard." Tears fell down Maggie's aged face as the words stumbled from her lips. "Where ya been Jack? Where ya been?"
Jack stared at his mother, stroking her hand as her gray lashed lids fell over her sorrowful eyes. He watched her chest rise and fall for several minutes before he left the room to take stock of his family farm. Or at least what was left of it.
He shook his head as he stared at the empty fields. Three years? His father had been dead three years and his mother... what of her? How long had she tried to toil the land alone? How long had she been sick? He walked around the outside of the house to the back where the barn stood. His father may have died three years ago, but the barn showed worse age than that. When had his Father stopped making the repairs? Had he even farmed the land the year of his death? Jack walked around to the back where the corral for the animals had been built. He stopped short as he took in the small lump in the far corner of one section. "Bella?" he muttered and to his astonishment the lump moved.
A soft moo came to him. He climbed through the fencing and made his way to the weak and mostly starved cow. "Aww Bella," he whispered as the weak animal tried to rise to greet him. He patted her side and she rose up on spindly legs.
"We couldn't get rid of her."
Jack turned at stared at his mother. He rushed over to catch her as she began to fall. Once more she was coughing and Jack was forced to hold her close as the painful wracks shook her frail form. "Mother let me get you back inside. I'll find you something to eat."
"Oh, Jack. There is nothing. I was just waiting to die. I couldn't sell her Jack. She's yours. She's all we got left to give ya."
Jack lifted his mother in his arms and whispered against her ear. "I'm home now. I'll take care of everything." He carried her back to the house, kicking doors opened and then closed as he went. Once he had his mother in her bed, her blanket wrapped snuggly around her, he hurried to the well and drew a bucket of water. "At least there is still water," he muttered as he took the bucket and carried it back to the house. He poured some into a mug for his parent and made sure she drank every cool drop. Then he watched her sleep, this time knowing it would be some time before she woke.
Jack finished exploring his decrepit home and came to the conclusion his mother was right. There was nothing he could offer her in way of a meal. He went back into the house and left a note by his mother's bed. Then he walked to the barn, wishing for the hundredth time that he hadn't used his last bit of coin to rent a room and bed two whores.
He found a length of gnarled rope and went to Bella, wrapped it securely around the thinning bones and helped to urge her up. It was a long walk for the dying bovine and Jack. Across the corral, through the dead and dusty fields and then into the thick, but lush canopy of the forest. Jack's feet dragged along the path he'd taken that same morning. This time though instead of a happy whistle falling from his lips, hearty sighs full of frustration and self-loathing and pity erupted instead. The sounds of breaking twigs and dry leaves were also heard throughout the thick foliage as Bella compliantly followed her Master.
Jack heard the rustling of the wind and stopped to drink from the canteen he'd filled before leaving the farm. His eyes caught a rush of movement to his left and he spun around. "Whose there?" he called out.
"Eh... it's just me."
Jack watched an old man, bent at the waist slowly make his way from behind a small gnarled tree. He took in the long beard that swayed as the gentleman walked. He held a cane in one hand and a pouch in the other. "Fine beastie," he said as he reached Jack's side. He rubbed the cow's hide and gave it a soft smack on the rump.
"Thank ya," Jack replied. "I'm heading to the village to sell her. You're more than welcome to come along."
"Have ya a drink on ya young lad?" Jack lifted his canteen and offered it to the elder. "Mighty kind boy you are." He drank deep of the refreshing beverage and then passed it back to Jack, who took it and reattached it to his belt. "I'll buy your cow."
"You?" Jack asked. He looked at the man before him. He showed no wealth. His clothes were torn and ragged.
"Aye, me. I'll be buyin' your cow. I need the milk."
"She's dry Sir. She's only good for butchering and even then you'll not get much." Jack stepped back and looked at Bella. He'd gotten the calf as a gift from his father's favorite milker. He'd only been a small child then and he'd taken to the little creature from the beginning. In time though as Jack grew other things claimed his interest and he abandoned the love of his family and his farm to seek out adventures in different lands.
Jack shook his head to empty his wayward thoughts. "Sir?"
"Your cow. Here, for your cow." He pushed a pouch into Jack's hand. Jack frowned, but felt the weight of it and chuckled. "It's worth its weight in goal," the old man replied and took the lead from Jack, to tug gently on Bella. "A good trade boy. A fine trade indeed."
Jack smirked at the retreating back of his ol' cow and the old man, he then quickened his step toward the village. His thoughts were now on purchasing food for his sick mother. Jack reached the village and went directly to the butcher in hopes of purchasing beef for a stew and hearty broth. His grin was wide and his step full of life as he dropped the pouch on the man's counter and gave his order.
He watched the rotund man pick up the pouch and open it. He smiled as the man looked in and then back at Jack, then looked back into the small pouch. A smile rose on the butcher's face and laughter rolled from his chest. Jack frowned and then watched in horror as the butcher dumped the contents of the pouch onto the counter. Three giant beans spilled out and rolled across the hard surface. "Beans?" Jack whispered, not quite believing what he was seeing. The butcher chuckled, scooped the seeds up and tucked them back into the cloth bag.
"A fine joke boy. A fine joke indeed."
Jack looked at the old butcher and heard the words similar to those he'd heard come from the old man's lips, but in that case it had been a good and fine trade. "But I need beef," he said to the retreating back of the butcher. The only answer Jack received was a large fist lifted and a thick finger pointing toward the door. Jack swiped the bag of beans from the counter top and trudged out.
He made his way back through the village. His shoulders slumped. His mood foul. A woman called out to him, but he ignored her. He had no money for food. No money for women and no cow to sell. All he had were beans. Jack reached the edge of the woods and looked back at where he'd been. The village was alive with activity and the woods was lonely and full of nothing but a trickster. Jack squared his shoulders and headed into the forest, intent on finding the man that had tricked him.
Jack walked along the path he'd come earlier, one he'd followed all his life and more so in the past two days then he had in several years. "Old Man!" Jack called out. The sound echoed back at him. "Old Man!" Jack shouted again and sighed when only the wind answered him.
Jack stopped and spun around. "Old Man?" he called again, this time his voice softer than before.
"Magic?" Jack repeated the rolled his eyes. "Old man, come out here and give me coin for Bella, not beans!"
No one came out and no one called to Jack and so he continued walking. Eventually he reached the opposite side of the forest and stared at the barren fields, now lit up by the moon beams dancing across the swirling dust. Jack glanced at the dilapidating structures and then down at his pouch of beans. He shook his head, disgusted with himself and muttered, "It's better to just let her die with dreams of her side playing in her mind."
He turned away and stepped back into the woods. Jack found a place small clearing and sat down on the thick moss covered ground. Moisture soaked into his trousers, but he didn't notice the dampness. He took the pouch and opened it, tipped it up, and allowed the beans to fall into his palm. They were large, about an inch and a half, much larger than any bean he'd ever planted. They did him little good though. They wouldn't even produce enough liquid for a vegetable broth. He shook his head and threw them far from his sight. Where they landed Jack didn't know, nor care. He turned away immediately and curled himself into a ball hoping to sleep as well as ward off the wind that had suddenly picked up.
As Jack slept, a pair of kind but old eyes watched the boy sleep. In time the owner of the staring eyes and his cow, munching happily on her cud, moved away. The old man wore a smile as he passed the spot where the beans lay; he winked and watched as the seeds began to sprout roots and then tiny stems. "Come cow, or we'll be carried away." He pulled on Bella's rope and led her away.
While Jack slept peacefully the ground below him began to rumble. It was gentle at first as the roots of the beans slowly grew, seeking out cracks in the rich soil under them. When they took hold of pebbles, then later rock, and eventually roots, the ground seemed to shake violently. The veins of the roots sucked at the rich moisture hidden in the crevices of the forest. Suddenly tiny vines appeared at the top of the bean seeds and began to weave their way around small bits of brush and then bushes, soon they were tall enough to wrap around the trunks of trees. Higher the vines went. They wove themselves into the branches, wrapped snuggly around leaf clusters and soon the three sprouts were blooming with flowers. When they erupted from the canopy of the forest the flowers grew into bean pods. Further the plants traveled their stems, now more like mammoth trunks spiraled together, linking themselves like rope. All the while, Jack dreamed of an old man sitting on a stool milking a fat cow.
Jack awoke covered in a fine sheen of mist. He shivered and wiped at his face, using the moisture on his shirt to wash away any filth that had settled on him during his slumber. He sat up and rolled his shoulders, before rising to stretch his aching bones. After a few seconds he finally thought of his mother and found himself praying her death had been swift. He took a deep breath and turned to head back down the path to his home. He never finished his step. His eyes grew wide and his jaw dropped as he took in the sight of the beanstalk. Jack's lids opened and closed rapidly as he tried to wake up from his dream. Eventually he pinched himself and jumped from the biting sting.
The wind whistled around Jack and he shuddered, suddenly feeling very much afraid to be in the forest alone. He'd not felt this intense fear since his days as a child. Now he recalled the stories his mother and father told of the woods between their farm and the village. It was haunted his father had said. Enchanted corrected his mother. Either way though, the stories they told Jack during his youth were suddenly rushing back to him. He remembered the tale of a witch who would trap men, women, children and eat them for her morning meals. The witch however had been tricked by a lad and a lass who fell in love. He shook his head, telling himself what he was seeing wasn't real, even though he was now walking around its incredible girth. Another story came to him as he heard a moaning wail from somewhere deep within the woods. He shuddered as he imagined a great wolf-man rising up to tear his heart out only to devour it as it beat its last. The story of the little girl in red had always been his favorite; Jack would always imagine he was the woodsman that had saved the girl. By the time he reached the place he'd started, Jack knew the beanstalk was indeed real and he was indeed awake. His hand shook as he reached out to touch the thick green trunk.
His fingers curled into the spongy vine and he peeled some of it off. He brought it to his lips. "Amazing," he whispered as he breathed in the aroma of the rich plant. He licked his fingers and tasted the juices of the vine. Jack made a face as he stared up into the canopy of the forest. "Where does it end?" he asked himself as he took a firm grip on a rolling stem that was close to the base of the plant. Jack lifted himself up and found a place for his foot to rest. He stretched his arm above his head and grabbed another twisted part of the plant. Again he found a place for his foot. Eventually Jack put one hand in front of the other and climbed the stalk. Hours passed as he went higher and higher. He broke through the treetops and was rewarded with the brilliant rays of the sun. There he took a break, leaning against the trunk and gazing at a perfectly formed bean.
Jack used his knife and cut a chunk from the plant. He bit into it and savored the sweet taste that erupted onto his tongue. He chewed hungrily and cut another chunk out, which he quickly stuffed in his shirt. "Just in case," he whispered as he thought of his mother. "Just in case."
He rose to his feet and began the upwards journey again. Soon he was in the clouds and he felt their moistness caress his warm skin. He breathed in and was rewarded with water that slipped easily into his mouth. He lapped at it, licking his tongue and drinking deep from the fluffy confections that floated about him. "Clouds..." he chuckled, "they taste remarkable. This whole world is enchanted," he whispered and kept climbing.
A cool breeze swept across Jack as he stopped to rest. With his eyes closed he turned his face into it. When it died down, he opened his eyes and stared dumbstruck at the sight before him. In front of Jack stood a rocky cliff. Sharp jagged rocks seemed to reach out to the bean plant. Tendrils had found homes in the crevices and burrowed into the rock. Jack stepped out onto one, shimmied across it and then climbed onto one of the ledges that helped to form the cliff. He stared back at the vine, then up at the cliff. He could see grass spilling over the side. Jack squared his shoulders, took another deep breath and began to make his way up the edge.
It wasn't a long climb, much unlike the trip up the stalk and soon Jack was reaching the top, throwing his leg over the side and pulling his body up. He rolled to his back and stared up at the clear blue sky above him. After catching his breath Jack rose from his grassy bed and again he was stunned speechless. Before him were fields full of crops. The sight of the fields didn't shock him, it was the size of the crops that stunned him. They were every bit as big as he was if not larger. The bean he'd eaten from was impressive but even these plants seemed to be more gigantic. Jack looked back and shook his head in amazement, something that for Jack was becoming a habit. He turned back to the crops and headed toward them. His curiosity was growing by leaps and bounds. Jack desperately wanted to know more about this enchanted world he'd stumbled across.
Jack walked through the field where the giant vegetables, many he didn't recognize, nor had he ever heard of. Over time he would stop and sample one of the plants, cutting a chunk and greedily sucking on its sweet or tangy meat. During most of his walk Jack was lost in his musings. He thought of his mother and how they'd never lack for food again. He prayed she still lived and he wanted to return home to her, but he also wanted to continue on his journey.