Harvey slammed the door, breathing heavily and glancing around his bedroom. He hated his vicious dog! His mother’s new terrier would snap and bite at anyone who ran or went upstairs.
He threw his satchel on his bed and switched on the computer. Harvey had to print off a picture of a Roman for homework.
He logged onto the internet and typed in:
He’d never been good at spelling.
He clicked ‘images’ and waited.
Deep in the internet, in ‘Roman World’ , Rufus Maximus felt a click on his shoulder. He had been sent for by the bad speller. Rufus had a long way to go.
Harvey had typed in: ‘Real Ro-man’ , and a real Roman was going to his screen, but, spelling ‘Roman’ badly meant Rufus had to go through all the ‘RO’ worlds.
But, without complaint, the little Roman stepped into the first tunnel. It was dark and gloomy and silky webs covered in spiders hung from the ceiling. But Rufus, with his spear and shield and his sword on his belt, wandered on, knowing which internet world he’d enter next.
‘ Romance’ .
As light shone into the tunnel Rufus gulped and shut his eyes tight, feeling his way with his spear. He only peeked once. A beautiful girl beckoned him, but Rufus raced away quickly, shutting his eyes tight again.
‘I don’t have time for that’ he thought.
Luckily, Romance wasn’t big and Rufus entered the next tunnel quickly.
This tunnel was shorter and on the walls grass and flowers had grown.
‘Rodents’ was the next world.
Rufus squealed as a rat scrambled over his sandaled foot. He hated rodents.
Guinea-pigs nibbled at grass, wombats shoved their snouts in the sand and dozed in the sun. Hamsters hid behind rocks, shrews and voles crouched in reeds, weasels and stoats hissed at each other and rats and mice crowded around Rufus.
Rufus ran, but mice climbed upon his legs and up his red tunic. Rats surrounded him, however fast he ran. They scratched his ankles, bit his toes, and gnawed at his sandals.
Rufus waved his arms helplessly, biting his lip and growling in annoyance.
"Oh! Couldn’t this boy spell Real Roman right?" he murmured angrily and flicked a mouse off his arm.
He neared the next tunnel, but the rats still got in his way.
"Get off! Rufus growled. "You’ll feel my wrath soon enough if you don’t go!" But of course the little rodents had no idea what the Roman had said.
At last Rufus stepped into the tunnel.
The rats fled immediately and Rufus furiously shook off the mice from his body.
The tunnel was rocky, but different kinds of rocks rolled about. Limestone, small bits of marble, grit stone and flakes of flint. Crystals hung from the ceiling, glittering in the dim light.
Rufus could tell what the next world would be:
‘Rocks and Minerals’.
He skidded out of the tunnel on a gleaming slab of marble.
This internet world was quiet, but Rufus didn’t have good balance. He wandered on, recovering from his experience with the Rodents.
Rufus leaped onto only grit stone because it wasn’t as slippery as other rocks, but he landed on a rock covered in moss and slipped. He fell on his breast-plate on a small amount of limestone. His helmet dropped off his head and crashed onto some crystals, smashing them into splinters as easily as glass.
Rufus wasn’t concentrating on the rocks any more and when he bent down to pick up his helmet, his foot slipped again and he fell more heavily. Rufus landed on his side on a pile of chips of flint, groaning miserably. He picked the flakes of flint out of his right arm. It was bleeding freely and he had nothing to cover it up with.
"By Jupiter! That boy!" he cried, clutching his arm.
Rufus trudged on to the tunnel and sighed with relief as he saw it.
It was red: the last step, he could see the screen.
He walked into it with a weak smile on his face.
"Well done, Rufus Maximus!" he congratulated himself as he reached the end. "You made it!"
Harvey looked up. Suddenly the screen went blank. He moved the mouse around urgently. Had it broken? But when the computer screen lit up, something strange happened .
The Roman on the screen started to scream at him.
" Get me out! " he demanded, bashing on the screen with his left hand.
Harvey only stared at him, aghast.
Amazingly, the Roman then pushed out the screen and jumped onto the desk.
"Do you know what you’ve taken me through?!" He shouted, but it was quiet to Harvey. "I am Rufus Maximus! I shouldn’t be dangerously slipping on rocks, being attacked by Rodents and….Oh! I won’t tell you about Romance….Just because a boy spelt ‘Roman’ wrong!"
Silence. Harvey began to think.
"OK," he said after a while. "I’ll take you to school tomorrow Mr Maximus…" Rufus raised his eyebrows. "And then…."
Rufus stuck out his lower lip. "I don’t want to go ‘and then’ anywhere. You ‘clicked’ me, so I will stay with you."
Harvey stared at the tiny Roman. He grinned, sighed, but nodded. "Bu…." he began, but Rufus interrupted.
"I need a tent and a comfy bed. I need somewhere to stack my weapons and somewhere to hang my armour." He glanced around. "I need food, meat and somewhere to make a fire." Rufus ordered. "Oh!... and a bandage." He held out his arm and gave Harvey a cheeky grin.
Harvey’s mouth had dropped open. "But listen, if that dog, outside, hears or senses you; you’re dead!" That had tried to stop the Roman giving orders.
Rufus didn’t care. He could escape. So he kept grinning cheekily at Harvey.
Harvey knew that keeping the Roman would be hard work and he had to keep him secret. He also knew, keeping a real but tiny Roman in his bedroom would bring some sort of adventure.