Page 1

Johan Veldeman

Small, alone and so far from home

Johan Veldeman Maarten Albrechts

Johan Veldeman & Maarten Albrechts

Chapter 1

The Mysterious Sphere

It was a sunny morning in May. Archie woke up itching to play. He stretched his arms up high in the air – all four hands in a perfect square. When suddenly – from the corner of his eye – he caught a glimpse of a white thing flying by. In a jiffy he stood at the windowpane, gazing at something he couldn’t explain. Was this a meteor or a falling star? Or perhaps a spaceship not yet ajar? Archie squinted and saw, to his dismay, how it fell in the land of Fair-a-Way.

‘Oh no,’ he sighed, his hopes dashed. Nowhere worse it could have crashed. Fair-a-Way was where the Big Foot reigned, crushing trespassers without restraint. Would he forever stay in the dark? Or could he sneak out and embark on this dangerous mission to find out what this flying object was all about? They say curiosity killed the cat. But Archie didn’t care about that. So he put on his shirt and pants, and crawled out on feet and hands.

The starry night was scared by dawn as Archie silently crossed the lawn. His heart beating ever so tense, when he passed his garden fence. He left his street, ran through the park, passed the tree with the mossy bark; across the soccer pitch, over the brook, where he climbed a rock to have a look. Sparkling behind him, as if it were ablaze: Antchester Town, bathed in golden rays. In front of him, a jungle of green: Fair-a-Way land,

threatening and mean.

A white outline caught his eye, more appealing than apple pie. His heart pounded in his chest: there lay the object of his quest! Archie took a deep breath and moved on ... farther from home than he’d ever gone. A few more steps to Fair-a-Way it took, when he saw the plaque on the rusty hook: a warning sign marking the edge of town. The words made Archie hesitate and frown. It said:

Trespasser, be fully aware: Here begins the land of black despair. But in this realm of cruel giants and fear, lay the object of his crusade: the sphere. That strange and mysterious moonstone, luring him into facing the unknown.

Archie took a step and went on and on. Quite soon, everything he knew had gone. Unknown territory was engulfing him.

The tension spread from limb to limb.



For yards he walked with stealth, dreaming of his awards and wealth and of the cheers in the Antchester Dome, once he would bring his treasure home. Knee-high he waded through grass and hay, when finally ‌ he found it:

Hurray! Hurray! Carefully, Archie walked right up to the rim of the giant sphere towering over him.





What could it be, this strange device, without any legs or arms or eyes? Full of holes, yet perfectly round; motionless, not producing … any sound. Archie circled it, looking for clues – wondering about its practical use. After a while, he came to a stop. Maybe the answer ... lay on top. There might be a hatch, or maybe a door. Or an escalator leading to the core. There he’d meet ants from outer space – and become a hero to his own earthly race! He didn’t hesitate and grabbed the thing; and with a powerful, yet graceful, swing … hoisted himself from hole to hole, until he reached the top, his goal. Alas! The door he was hoping for didn’t appear on the upper floor. Archie sat down with his head in his hands. To solve this riddle, he needed … his friends. He would fetch Harry, Mark and Drew. Together they’d know what to do. While he thought of this new trip, a weird tremor almost made him slip. Archie got up and – much to his fright – he saw

a shade darker than night.

‘Oh no!’ A Big Foot coming his way, blocking the sun, looking for


Archie crawled with all his might, over the top, well out of sight. Hoping this creature would not stop to grab the sphere with him on top. All his wishes were but an idle hope. Because peeping from his hidden slope, Archie saw Big Foot coming to a halt, squatting down slowly ready for assault. Then Big Foot grunted, vicious and loud – gushing a breeze and a peppermint cloud. His paws plucked at the beautiful green, making land bare, where grass had been. There was no safe place to hide. So Archie clung tightly to the side. While Big Foot got back on his feet, took a stick and gritted his teeth. Something swooshed to and fro.

Then ...

the most

terrible blow

au ph er ew as l

Th es

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A g n i y r r a C

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! e r e h w s w o n k o h w

Antletics – Archie and the Mysterious Sphere  

Chapter One of Antletics - a graphic storybook in 1,000 rhyming verses about a curious little ant in a strange big city.