Doris stood in the kitchen doorway, the door itself wide open. On hearing the fits of giggles, she had opened the door ajar and listened in on the friends’ conversation. “You’re not bloody inspectors at all are you, and you’re not a cleaner!” Her face then turned pale. “Who are you, are you the police?” The three friends were amused and bemused at Doris’s panic-stricken anger. “What do you know about this place, and Arthur?!”
“We don’t know anything!” Leddy protested. “Look, maybe I should have explained before, you see…”
But then, Doris suddenly leapt towards the group, and grabbing them each, dragged them through the bar and into the washroom down below. She flung them through the small door, slamming and locking it behind them. For a woman of small stature, Doris made up for it in strength.
Falling over each other, Leddy, Fiona and Gary picked themselves up pathetically, squeezing themselves in as best they could into the narrow corridor which leads downwards.
“Anyone there?” a sweet, warm voice called out.
“Who is it?”
“Who are ‘us’?”
“We are us!”
“And who is ‘us’?”
“Oh bloody hell just come here, whoever you are!”
The three friends, making their way down the corridor, soon joined a startled Sandy in the washroom, all four friends taking up much of the floor space in that small room.
“What are you two doing down here?! If Doris catches you down here, she’ll go mad!” she turned a pair of frowning brows towards Leddy. “Is this part of your stupid plan?”
Leddy stared down at the floor for a second. The gaslight hanging above, with its dull, flickering light, cast a darkened shadow over his face.
“Well, actually…” his voice became mouse-like and defeated, like his regiment had just lost a great battle and now he had to tell his general the bad news.
“Actually, the plan’s kind of gone to shit.” said Fiona, finishing off where Leddy started.
Sandy’s face exploded into anger.
“I knew it would turn out like this, you stupid, bloody idiot!” She thumped Leddy hard on his arm.
“I was only trying to help; I didn’t know she was listening in on us!”
Sandy ignored his explanations, and hit him again so hard he tripped and fell into the damp wall, bringing a lump of earth with him as he slid to the ground. Sandy was immediately apologetic and helped him to his feet, but Leddy almost ignored her completely.
He was fixated by the lump of earth he held in his hand, something seemed to shine away within the earth. He dug away at it, and eventually held in his hand something large that sparkled insanely in the darkly lit room.
“Is that…?” Leddy began to ask.
“I think it is.” Sandy answered.
“Wow,” began Fiona, slightly less impressed, “rather a clichéd situation, don’t you think?”
“That wall’s rather wet, don’t you think?” asked Gary, looking straight ahead of him.
Outside in the kitchen, Sylvester was returning from the realms of drunken debauchery. He had since dropped to his knees with his head still hanging dejectedly over the sink, while Doris had kept the tap running above.
“Sylvester! C’mon you bloody ape, we’ve got trouble!”
Sylvester finally dragged himself upwards, his naturally bloated, and now sweaty, face and chest resembling some kind of newborn monster.
“What’s happened?” His voice sounded as gravelly as rocks in a cement mixer.
“Those bloody critics aren’t critics at all, they’re just bloody kids! I’ve a feeling those kids know something about what’s going on here, so I’ve shut them up in the washroom.”
“What do we do know then?”
“We go down there and sort them out, or at least you’ll sort them out for me.”
They made their way down to the washroom, Doris holding onto the still slightly hung-over Sylvester as if he were a dog being taken on a walk. Down in the basement, the four friends were still staring at the discovery they had made. Having unearthed a few more small lumps that fell from the wall, the friends found more and more sparkling lumps of stone with almost every lump.
“These must be worth a fortune!” Gary said ecstatically, holding several in his hands.
“You can finally quit this crappy job and live a life of luxury!” Leddy said, slapping Sandy on the back with one hand and holding up several diamonds to his face with the other.
“We still need to get out of here first.” Sandy retorted. “And anyway, maybe we should stop digging at the wall?” She raised her eyebrows and nodded discreetly to Leddy, whilst Fiona and Gary looked over their spoils.
“Oh err, right, yes. Good idea.”
Suddenly, footsteps were heard approaching.
“Quick, hide them!” Sandy said, stuffing the diamonds into her pockets while the others did the same.
“What about all that earth?” Fiona asked.
Leddy looked around him feverishly, the footsteps coming closer, before kicking the earth towards the sink.
“Stand in a line in front of the sink; we can hide them that way.” He said
The four of them quickly stood side by side just as Doris and Sylvester appeared. Doris looked no threat at all, particularly as she stood in front of the hulking Sylvester, who was barely able to fit in the small room. His swaying figure looked as though he could collapse at any minute. Doris gave a scathing look towards Gary and Fiona before turning to Leddy.
“Do you know who these little buggers are?”
Leddy glanced at Gary and Fiona, who both seemed to quiver where they stood. He himself was feeling rather anxious about the whole affair; it all seemed to have turned completely on its head. He opened and closed his mouth rapidly, thinking of something, anything, to try and overcome the situation. Finally, a little twinkle seemed to sparkle in his eye as a plan formed in his head.
“Well of course I know them, stupid!” Doris fumed as he said this. “This is Gary and this is Fiona.” He held out a helpful arm to show which one was which. “They’re a couple of mates from school, I texted them earlier asking if they could come down and pretend to be restaurant critics.”
A shocked silence seemed to fill the room. It seemed as though to his friends that Leddy was actually admitting defeat before the enemy. Doris herself seemed rather stupefied by his explanation, thinking that he would have at least tried to put up a fight. But she could not know of course that she was dealing with Leddy Bloomfield, one of the great minds of his generation. She finally overcame her silence.
“So…” she gasped, “well, what was it all for?”
“For you, of course!”
Doris felt even more confused than before.
“Oh, god’s sake, what are you on about you horrid little boy?!”
“Well look, when I first came here today, I felt the place looked rather, err…” he paused at put his finger to his lips in deep thought, “well, I can’t really think of other words to use other than ‘shit’, but you know what I mean. I thought I could liven things up for the customers if I got some of my mates in, have them pretend to be proper posh critics and stuff, oh, I hope they managed to fulfil that role successfully?” Doris nodded her head, resulting in her mouth falling open. “Ah excellent, well, I thought that if they gave you a bad review, it would set some fireworks off and give the place some much needed air.”
“But… but…” Doris stammered, “We haven’t had any bloody customers all day!”
“Well I can’t help out with everything, you know deary!” Leddy waggled his finger in her direction. “I’m only the cleaner; I have enough on my plate as it is.”
Doris seemed to loose herself completely. She raised a shaking finger and pointed at Sandy.
“Did you know anything about this?”
Sandy went red instantly, unable to think of a satisfactory reply.
“Can’t say she helped out much,” Leddy chipped in, “she was against the whole thing, said it wouldn’t work. Mind you, I can’t get too cross with her, as I’ve only met her today. It wouldn’t be right to start off on the wrong foot with your co-workers now would it?” He gave a sickly sweet smile, which he knew was all too smug.
Doris fumed slightly, as she took control of herself.
“Right,” she said, after simmering down, “I’ve had just about enough of you, and I know exactly what I’m going to do with you lot. You’re going to stay down here while I ring up some of my own friends. They’ll take care of you alright. Until then, you’re going stay down here.” She turned to leave, but collided with the mass of Sylvester, whom everyone had seemed to forget about. “Bloody hell you moron, why didn’t you do anything!?”
Sylvester gently rubbed his head.
“Well, I kind of wasn’t listening, I’ve got a splitting headache.”
The two of them left the other four alone, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Leddy, that was immense!” said Gary.
“What exactly was that anyway?” asked Sandy piercingly, looking up at Leddy with clear, steady eyes that couldn’t let him go.
“I thought I’d try and get you off the hook,” he explained, “if Doris thinks only me, Fiona and Gary were the cause of all this, then you wouldn’t get into trouble.”
Sandy’s eyes seemed to release Leddy from their clutches as she gave a small smile, and seemed to whisper into Leddy’s ear.
“What do you think she has planned for us?” asked Gary.
“Who cares? Whoever they are, let them come!” said Fiona. “We got all the diamonds we could ask for, and who knows what else is buried in them walls!” she pointed to them, and then everyone seemed to turn rather solemn.
“That wall looks a bit, well, sort of…” began Leddy.
“Wet?” finished Gary.
“It’s always been wet.” Sandy retorted.
“Yeah, but it sort of looks even damper than before…” noted Fiona, who had seen how wet the wall was when she first came in.
But those thoughts seemed to wash away as she dug into her pocket and brought out the small, shimmering stones of various sizes. Hours seeded to pass by, during which the four friends sat on the floor, idly fingering the stones in their hands, and noticing how much damper the wall was getting. They sat facing the wall in silence, and with each minute, another drop of water seemed to slither its way down the wall.
“These glass stone things are amazing,” said Gary, feeling the smooth yet cold and wet stones slide through his fingers, “I wonder of you could build a window with these?”
The others laughed at his lack of expertise in these matters.
“Gary, you do know what these are, don’t you?” Fiona enquired, who was sitting next to him.
“Sure, glass stones!”
“You mean diamonds?”
“Di-a-monds? What are they?”
“The things you’re holding in your hand!”
“Well, whatever they’re called, they sure are lovely.”
Fiona and Gary then settled down into a miniscule argument over what was the name of the objects they held, and why they should be called such. Leddy and Sandy sat next to each other, ignoring them.
“So,” began Leddy, tenderly, “what are you going to do with your diamonds?”
“Hmm, not sure yet,” said Sandy, feeling more at ease than she was earlier, “how about you?”
“I don’t know,” Leddy’s voice changed to a more consciously casual and carefree style, “maybe I could take someone on holiday with me or something?”
Sandy blushed, immediately picking up on the hint.
“Like that holiday we took to France?”
“Maybe even better,” suggested Leddy, “maybe it could be all across Europe for the summer.”
Both Leddy and Sandy gazed at each other, a warm glow spreading over them. But then that glow lost its warmth when Fiona’s voice dominated the room.
“You know, I’m probably not the only one in thinking this, but isn’t there a possibility that there is water behind that wall?”
“Not just behind, above and around as well.” answered Leddy dryly, exasperated at Fiona’s interruption.
Both Fiona and Gary shot up in shock.
“Yep, there’s that river isn’t there, and we’re underground, aren’t we?”
“That’s right.” said Sandy cheerily. Leddy noticed that Sandy didn’t seem as upset that their conversation had to end as he was. He lent back into the wall morosely, feeling as though his efforts had once again been defeated.
Both Fiona and Gary turned to face the wall, now with a sense of panic.
“Oh, bugger.” said Fiona.
“Cool!” said Gary.
Fiona then smacked Gary around the head.
“Not cool! That wall could collapse and we all could drown! Couldn’t we Leddy?”
“Well, maybe,” said Leddy in a dejectedly relaxed manner, “I don’t know that much about it though, what do you think Sandy?” Sandy didn’t answer; instead she looked as though she were far away from reality.
“I’m still worried as to what Doris is going to do with us.”
“She’s probably just going to get some of her friends to take us back home, that’s all!”
“Yeah,” popped up Gary, “it’s not like she’s going to kill us or shove an onion up our bums, that sort of thing’s illegal. Trust me, I googled it.”
“What, shoving an onion up your bum?” asked Fiona.
“No, the whole killing thing, onion-shoving is generally just frowned upon. Or is it the other way round?”
“I’d rather have an onion shoved up my arse rather than have it shoved the other way round.” quipped Leddy, suddenly perking up.
At this point, three voices laughed sharply into the air, but one remained silent.
“What does that mean, the other way round?” asked Gary.
“It means you wouldn’t want to have an onion shoved up your sausage, would you?” explained Leddy.
“That makes a great lunch, sausage and onions.”
The other three let out sighs of despair for the youngest of the group. Suddenly, the jangling of keys could be heard some distance away and the echoing of a door being opened floated down the passage way and into the washroom. The four friends stood up expectantly and soon came the small figure of Doris. She gave them a deceptively toothy smile.
“Come along children, its time to go home.”
After that, she gave them a low laugh that seemed to linger forever in the damp passage way. As the four friends made their way out of the larder, Doris’s haunting cackle seemed to slither down the passage way past the friends and make its way back to Doris, enveloping the group as they walked. Her laugh seemed to stick to their persons, leaving a low murmur that seemed to keep its menacing eye upon the teenagers and never to leave them.
“Well, at least she seems happy.” said Gary.
“Oh shut up Gary!” the other three voices rang out in unison.
Doris then halted the group and opened the washroom door. As she did so, they could just make out four dark figures standing either side of the entrance, but once the door was fully opened, the bright lights of the kitchen hit them hard and before they had time to adjust their vision, they felt themselves being grabbed around the waists and being dragged away.
They kicked and screamed as best they could as the rough bodies dragged them through the dining room. As they went past the tables and chairs, Leddy was struck by a thought, and hopefully his capturer would feel the full force of that strike. He grabbed a near-by chair as best he could, raised it into the air, and brought it down onto the capturer’s head, sending splinters and shards of wood flying everywhere.
Leddy’s capturer didn’t fall to the ground unconscious like he had done in Leddy’s head. Instead, he stopped dead in his tracks and slowly turned his head down towards Leddy. He was holding Leddy sideways at his hip and Leddy could now clearly see the blank yet demonic face of his capturer. His lower half was caked in stubble and his eyes looked as though he hadn’t slept in weeks. His short hair fell flat across his head. No emotion radiated from him, but Leddy still felt a slight shiver run through his body.
“Are you alright Michael?” said a monotonous group of voices.
The other three captures, also holding their captives sideways to their hips, had all stopped and were facing Michael, waiting for an answer. Leddy then saw that all four men held the same dull yet dangerous face upon them.
“I’m fine.” said Michael, also in the same monotonous voice as his friends. “Did you do that for any specific reason?”
“I thought I saw a fly.” answered Leddy quickly.
“Do you mean on the chair?”
“No, I mean on your head.”
“We’ve got to get a move on!” piped up a shrill voice. Doris had become lost within the four men and had to jump up between two of them to make herself noticeable.
The cavalcade made its way out of the restaurant and into the outside, where the sun had dipped behind the hills considerably since Leddy had found his way back in, and had turned the sky a warm shade of musty pink. The capturers opened the back doors of a waiting van and with much rummaging and kicking and punching, tied the friends up and shoved them into the back, slamming the doors shut. Two of the men followed the friends into the back and the other two took to the cab. As they closed the doors, Doris looked up to the men.
“Sylvester and I will stay here until the pick-up arrives.”
The van then roared into life and sped off down the dusty pathway.
The adventure continues next week!