Part One

"Why was I born like this?" she writes, "Why can't I be like everyone else? Why do I have to be so weird… so different? What did I do to deserve this?"

Her name is Tania Butler. She's nine years old, has lush green eyes and long blonde hair, all the way down her back.

She sits in her room and writes quietly in her diary. She's had it for a year now, and the first thing she ever wrote in it was, "My name is Tania. I'm a mute, which means I can't talk."

Since that year a lot has happened. She started year three and had her birthday, which no one from school came to. She moved to a new house and school as well, hoping it would be better than the one where everyone made fun of her, because she couldn't talk.

Instead, on her first day back, the kids made fun of her, called her stupid and then left her out of all the games.

Outside her house was the forest, huge and green. She liked to look at it from her bedroom window, imagining what sort of wonderful creatures lived inside. Maybe fairies, leprechauns… she could have sworn she saw big things moving inside… like the wild things.

Tania stops writing as she thinks about school that day.

It was a Thursday.

Show and tell day.

Tania hated Thursday. After everyone got up and talked about their toys or pictures and sometimes their pets, they'd all turn to her, the girl who couldn't talk and smile at her. They were cruel smiles.

Today was even worse. Someone had left a mean note on her desk afterwards. It felt like someone had pushed her hard. She could feel she was about to cry, but tried not to. Instead she picked the note up and started walking up to the teacher's desk, but someone stuck their foot out and tripped her over.

She couldn't help herself.

She cried.

The others laughed.

She ran out of the classroom, her nose all sniffily and her eyes all puffy.

Her Mum came and picked her up early that day.

Tania felt sorry for her parents. Why did they have to end up with a little girl like her, so stupid she can't even talk? Sometimes she asked them if they wished they'd had a smart boy who made lots of friends and never came home sad. Her parents never said yes. She wasn't sure if they were telling the truth or not.

The only way she could talk was by writing notes, but she didn't do it at school because then the kids started making more fun of her. She didn't do much work at school at all anymore.

She writes down what happened at school in her little blue diary. At the end she writes, "I never want to go to school ever again, but I have to because if I don't it will make my Mum and Dad sad."

She hears a noise outside and puts her diary and pen down. She crawls over her bed and looks out the window.

She can't see anything but she hears the noise again.

It's very faint but it sounds like an animal. A big animal, sending out a call to more big animals. It sounds like a strong animal, fast… king of the forest.

Tania has seen things in the forest before, but never heard that noise.

"Maybe it's a dragon," she thinks to herself.

She hears the noise again.

Her curiosity gets the better of her.

Tania walks outside and out the backdoor. Her big old dog, Snoopy, looks up with a little interest, but then puts his head back down and falls asleep again.

She keeps walking over to the forest. She's just about to reach the trees when she hears more noises. It sounds like something big and heavy walking. Twigs snap and it sounds like the creature has lots of legs.

Then it starts to move faster and branches shift as it comes closer.

Tania is terrified. She's shaking as the big dark shape comes closer through the trees.

She can't take it anymore.

She turns and runs back towards the house. As she runs she hears the noise again, scaring her more.

She doesn't stop running until she's inside, far away from the creature. She slams the door shut, biting back tears. She can hear Snoopy barking, weakly, like he doesn't really care, he's just proving he can still bark.

Her Mum asks her what's wrong.

Tania shakes her head frantically, trying to use the little bit of sign language she knows to say that she thought she saw something.

Her Mum tries to get her to say more, but she won't. She's too scared.

She runs upstairs and crawls beneath her bed and scratching her elbow, something she has always when she's nervous or upset.