Part five - Life's a Beach
Fergus was waking up with the assistance of a good slap from Katie.
Lucas had run off to alert and gather the remainder of the round. In came Alex, Caiden and Ava, but Ying Yue quickly pushed past and grabbed Fergus by the jaw. Looking straight into his eyes she asked, “How much did you tell them?”
“Tell them? I didn’t talk to them. Er... yeah, I’m sure, I didn’t,” said Fergus. “Never got to the house. How did I get here?”
“You’re sure?” Ying Yue continued, “You had no contact with them?”
“I hid behind a bush as one arrived, and... Then, I’m here. How did I? Oh, you came and got me. Sorry,” he cringed.
Ying Yue jerked her hand away from his chin and breathed a sigh that fell short of confident relief.
“You have no idea,” said Bert exasperatedly.
“Where was the bush?” added Lucas.
“To the right, as you go into the gate. A biggish rhododendron,” said Fergus.
“That’s where we found him,” said Lucas.
Across the room, Finnegan, still laughing, with a pained look on his face, managed to get a couple of words out, “Shit head.”
To which everyone, but Fergus joined in the laughter.
Bert and Ginny sat with Fergus and went through the story of the night.
Fergus was very embarrassed and very sorry. Eventually, all three went over to where Katie was still hanging on to Finnegan’s convulsing body, and Fergus hugged his little brother, quietly apologising incessantly. Finnegan’s laughter was abating somewhat and he got a few more words out, “Bacon sandwich?” were two of them.
“A good sign,” nodded Ginny.
“Have we got bacon?” enquired Fergus.
‘There’s a well stock kitchen through there,’ indicated Ginny.
“I’ll sort it for you, Bro,” said Fergus, “I know the way you like ‘em, and I need some too.”
After breakfast were washed down with a little of Caden’s perfect hot chocolate. All were gathered and Ying Yue addressed the round for a de-briefing.
They broke down all that had been learnt from the night and analysed how they might have done things better.
The full gravity of their situation was now obvious to Bert and Fergus. The meeting took the best part of two hours, by which time Finnegan had recovered enough to sit up and talk with only intermittent giggling. On the way back to the boat there was a thoughtful silence, well, punctuated by the odd giggle.
The day was awkward for Fergus; he felt he needed to say sorry to everyone constantly, but knew it would be a pain for all concerned if he did. By early evening, Caden had noticed his discomfort and went over to him to say, “We are all finished with that episode now, bonny lad, we can move on. We’re not going’ to hold it against you forever,” and he turned his head to face Bert. “Hey Barman! This man needs a pint.”
All but Finnegan and Katie were in the operations room of the Dutch barge and they gathered around Bert, Ginny and Lucas for drinks. Eventually, Finnegan and Katie joined them. Finnegan had made an almost full recovery, but objected if anyone started trying to tell a joke. “It hurts if I laugh, so don’t even think about it, “he warned.
Click the arrows for a reminder of
If that doesn't do the trick all is
explained in part 1
Just across the marina in a small cruiser, Daisy pushed back a curtain and peered out across the water.
“They’re at it again,” she said.
Gus shook his head, “Always boozing.”
For the next week ,the round took regular trips out to a secluded countryside location to train as a team, and for the Ts to practice their powers.
Ginny’s ice cubes fired like bullets. Flambo took his flame thrower to a full hundred yards with pinpoint accuracy. Bert was the only one that could fly, but found he could also lift all but Caden for a short distance. Even before suiting up Caden, wasn’t small. Caden threw saucers the size of a car wheels like Frisbees and Ying Yue made all projectiles bounce off of her shield or get swallowed up. Timing was improving, skills were being honed.
Alex and Ava stayed on the boat, scanning the net for news of Ts. It seemed that life was becoming a little more predictable, even routine, until Ava said, “I think we have something, this looks T related.”
Back at the Hoods HQ, just north of York, Don and Chuck made their way to the medic’s room to see how team member, Michael a.k.a. Pinch, was progressing. Michael had been in a coma and fed on a drip since the Little Suppton fracas, but now the word was he was up and in good shape. He was sitting on the side of his bed as the two walked in. He nodded to indicate he would be OK. Chuck was about to start to talking, but stopped as two stockily built Chinese men entered the room. They stood in the doorway. There was an uncomfortable silence and then they separated for a tall, blond, muscular man to stride in between them.
“I’m Haskell, also known as Hypno. I am here to show you how we capture Ts. You will do exactly as I say. You will think what I tell you to think. You will never question the directives we receive from the elders... ever... again.” He spoke quietly, calmly, firmly.
“This is your fate should you fail me.” He tapped the spiral on the front of his hoodie and the faces of the three contorted in increasing horror. He tapped again and they were released from their nightmare visions.
We do not wait to react to news of Ts. We cause news to happen. “ I have cast a bated hook that they will find hard to resist. They will respond, we will be ready. We will prevail.”
Alex and Ava pointed to a story on the Sunderland Echo website, where it seemed that a young girl with a black cat T shirt was attracting an unusual amount of feline followers. She was pictured walking on the beach with a furry entourage that would usually be reticent to set foot on sand. What’s more she looked familiar.
“That’s Ruby! Carl Burpington’s girl,” exclaimed Bert, in the direction of Fergus. “You know Carl? Third in the home brewing competition, Little Suppton. Big, round bloke, shaggy tash - usually full of froth? Yeah? That’s his daughter.”
Fergus stared at the screen, “What’s she doing up there? She’s got exams next week. She’s no time for messing about with moggies.”
“She’s been Teed” said Caden.
“What’s this?” said Ginny, who had just walked in with Ying Yue. Bert pointed. Ginny took one look at the screen and said, “Carl’s daughter. We have to get to her before they do.“
Ying Yue quickly scanned through the article and agreed, “Let’s get up there.”
They were on the road in no time.
“I wonder if Carl and his missus knows where she is?” said Fergus.
“We need to get Ruby safe before we involve the parents,” said Ginny.
Alex, Ava and Katie had been checking online for any further news of the ‘Mognate’ as the press had dubbed her, but as they pulled into the car park of their hotel a mile down the road from where the photo was taken, Katie looked up, shook her head and mumbled, “Still nothing.”
Meeting in Ying Yue’s room, it was decided that a careful reconnaissance was needed. Lucas was keen to dress for a jog along the coast road.
Caden and Ying Yue took to the road in a taxi, asking the driver to just show them around,
Those without Ts manned laptops, trawling the web for clues there.
Bert and Ginny plumbed for the beach. The evening air was still, the sun was warm. Bert and Ginny stepped out onto the sands to take a leisurely stroll towards where the newspaper picture was taken.
The tide was out, the beach was wide and they walked along the water’s edge. Yes, there was a serious job to be done, but for the first time since the T shirt had come into his life, Bert felt calm and his head usually full of heavy thoughts, made way for thoughts of Ginny, nothing more than that, and he didn’t feel guilt for it. He felt... normal again. Ever since the closeness Bert had felt at the Duxford safe house, he had wondered if there was a chance something could happen between them.
‘Ginny seems calmer too,’ thought Bert. They skimmed the odd flat stone, as they walked along the smooth sands.
“I never knew the North East had beaches like this,” said Ginny.
“Amazing,” agreed Bert.
Here and there along the way they passed other couples walking in the opposite direction, all of whom nodded and smiled in passing. Bert and Ginny smiled back and enquired, “Have you seen the ‘Mognate’ today, you know the girl with the cats?”
All seemed to know to whom they were referring and often had a quip about it. ‘Friendly lot,”’ thought Bert. Then, eventually, a dad with two five or six year olds answered, “Aye, she was on the grass on the top of the cliff between the beaches. She’s not happy. One of her mogs got run over.”
Ginny instantly called Ying Yue to say they had heard of a sighting.
Ying Yue urged them, “Approach with caution, the Hoods may be there already. I’ll let everyone know. We’ll see you soon, we’re tracking your phone.”
Bert and Ginny made tracks back to the coast road, a little, but not greatly faster than the speed they were walking before. All the glorious tranquillity Bert had felt for a short while dissipated. The stress was back, but Bert felt a little better when Ginny looked to him and said, “We’ll take this walk again for us when we sort this out.”
“Absolutely,” said Bert.
On the path along the coast road they spotted Lucas jogging along on the other side of the road; he stopped before he got too close. Pretending to have a stitch, he sat on a small wall and fiddled with his phone, as if changing music. He was texting back to the round. It was obvious to Bert and Ginny that he had gotten the message too.
Still a few hundred yards away on the top of the rise of the busy coast road, Bert could just see a cat run across the road in the direction of where Ruby, who was still out of sight, should be. All had their phones linked, all hands free, Ying Yue said, “We’re south of the target and closing in, watch for Hoods. You have the north side covered, close in slowly if she is there. We have all of her exit routes covered. Lucas, Swing around to the west stay on the land side of the road. Bert, Ginny, make your way up on the grass, if anything comes at you from the road, you need to have time to react.
Bert and Ginny walked slowly up the grassy bank passing a few families sitting watching the sea from the slightly elevated position. A couple of children were sitting on their dad like he was a bench. The dad smiled as they passed.
There was a whistle sound from a passing car and suddenly, all, parents and children turned their gaze to focus on Bert and Ginny. All got to their feet and started walking toward them. They were surrounded. Bert was just about to alert the others, when Ying Yue said it first, “The families are coming for us! It’s a trap. “
To be continued