The penultimate chapter!
Inside the restaurant, Fiona and Gary sat dejectedly at the bar, her drinking vodka and coke and he drinking a blackcurrant squash. Fiona sat with both elbows on the bar, resting her head on one hand and holding her drink with the other. Gary sat hunched forward, one hand holding his drink and the other picking away at his ear.
“I just feel so helpless,” she said, “just sitting here, not being able to do anything, and yet knowing exactly what’s going on, while Leddy and Sandy could still be trapped in that house for all we know.”
“I think I just felt my brain.” said Gary, shoving his finger as deep as he could into his ear.
Fiona turned to see and immediately reached over and pulled his hand away from his ear.
“Gary, I’ve told you before! That’s not what you do with your fingers. Now just, drink your drink.” She gave a glaring pass at Gary’s drink, the dark, purple liquid sitting patiently in its glass. “Why did you get blackcurrant? They said we could drink anything we want, and you get blackcurrant?”
Gary looked around him anxiously, as if he was making sure they were alone.
“I’m blending in.” he replied. “I don’t want to look suspicious. I’m only a kid; it would look strange if I was drinking alcohol.”
“Shame you couldn’t blend in like I told you.” Fiona said.
“I did!” Gary retaliated, “it would’ve looked strange if I’d kept my mask on while the others were taking theirs off.”
“But you weren’t supposed to!” said Fiona, the volcano returning to her voice.
“Well, anyway, at that time, you were the one who wasn’t blending in.”
Fiona shrugged off Gary’s last comment, knowing that there was some truth in it. Not wanting to let Gary have the final word, she quickly changed the subject.
“It was nice of them to let us stay in the bar, even if they locked all the doors.”
“I’d rather be back in the larder.” said Gary.
Fiona looked surprised.
“It was cosier, wasn’t it? And it had lots of lovely di-a-monds in the walls.”
“Yeah, also felt like it had a whole river running through the walls. I’m glad we got out of there when we did. They can stay down there for as long as they want.”
“Would you not think the di-a-monds would be happier in a museum or something?”
Fiona gave an exasperated cry at Gary.
“Not the diamonds! The workers we came here with, the ones who are down there now!”
“Oh, right then.” said Gary, lapsing into silence at Fiona’s relief. “I wonder if they’re feeling cosy.”
“Oh just shut up Gary!”
Silence again, broken only by the sound of blackcurrant juice being washed down.
“Must be quite cosy in there with all those di-a-monds.”
“Gary!” Fiona snapped, spilling her drink and losing control of her glass. As the glass shattered into a thousand pieces, she moaned pathetically. “Listen, why did you give me this idiot to spend my time with?”
Because the two of you are good together, you each bring out the best in each other.
“Oh really? Well I’m sorry but I just don’t see it!”
Well maybe you’re not supposed to. Anyway, I’m having fun with you two characters being thrown together like this. You had fun escaping from the mansion didn’t you?
“Who are you talking to there, Fiona?” asked Gary.
“No-one, no-one at all!” said Fiona, turning her back and facing the other direction.
Suddenly, the door behind the bar that led into the kitchen burst open and Doris stood in the doorway, her small figure barely visible over the bar.
“I thought I told you two to keep quiet! And don’t go drinking every last drop from every last bottle! This wasn’t even my idea, so be grateful to Derek and don’t go taking liberties!”
She slammed the door behind her, sending several poorly stacked bottles plummeting to their deaths. Returning to the kitchen, she flung herself onto a decaying wooden chair and looked across the table at Sylvester, who was keeping himself busy by handling the diamonds brought up from the larder. He sat neatly in his chair, eyeing each diamond that lay on the table as if they were all his.
“Sylvester put them down! Arthur doesn’t want you’re mucky finger all over his stuff!”
“Sorry.” He solemnly placed the diamond back onto the table, placing his hands between his lap.
“We need to be as careful with these as possible, just think of the money we’ll get from these. If Arthur likes what we’ve done, we can use what he pays us to do this place up, nice and proper!” She put her feet up on the table and leaned back into her chair, with her eyes facing up towards the ceiling. “We can get a new, massive oven. One of those digital thingies that cooks the meal before it’s even been put into the oven itself. And we’ll be able to afford a whole team of staff to do all the work and…”
But as she continued to become more and more lost in her dream, the larder door was flung open and out came Derek, slightly damp and covered in dirt and soil, and carrying a clear, plastic bag full of small objects that sparkled slightly in the dimly lit kitchen.
“Here’s another load, but the more we dig into the walls, the more diamonds we find, we might be here forever!”
He placed the bag onto the table and retreated back to the larder. Sylvester’s eyes lit up once more as he saw the bag and its contents. The bag towered high towards the roof, and Sylvester gazed upon it with awe. As he looked up however, he began to hear a buzzing sound. The more he listened, the louder and closer it grew. He peered behind the bag and looked out of the small window which stood beneath the kitchen sink. The window had thick frames running through it which had grown rotten with time, and only small glass panels, which were smeared with dirt from years of neglect. But through the panels, Sylvester could just make out a faint, orange glow in the distance towards the centre of the village.
“Doris, can you hear or see anything?”
Doris had retreated once more into her land of dreams and could only muster the energy to turn her head slightly. She gazed out of a different window to Sylvester’s, whose window looked out along the dusty road that lead towards the village. Doris’s window looked out directly onto the passing road, where no glow could be seen.
“Not a thing, my dear.” said Doris wistfully, and she closed her eyes slowly, completely cutting herself off from the outside world.
Never one to question his employer’s word and noticing the now roaring sounds from the outside had suddenly ceased, Sylvester went back to examining each and every diamond he could.
Back in the bar, Fiona was pouring herself another drink from behind the bar when there was a great succession of rapping at the front door.
“Whoever it is, tell them we have an ample supply already.” said Fiona rather slovenly, and not bothering to look up from her bartending skills. She also didn’t bother to take notice that much of the drink she was pouring from the bottle was ending up on the floor instead of in her glass. Gary got up from his barstool and walked over to the door.
“Who is it?” he asked cheerily.
“It’s me!” came a voice from the other side.”
“Who’s me?” asked Gary.
“I am!” replied the voice urgently.
“You’re me?” asked Gary, surprised.
“Then who am I?”
“Oh, well that’s alright then.”
“Gary, will you just open the door? I know it’s you!”
“Sorry, I can’t. We’re locked in because we found out about some diamond and drug smuggling that’s going on and two of our friends are trapped in a big old house not far from here and my friend here is rapidly turning into an alcoholic and…”
“Oh-okay Gary, I’ll, yeah I’ll deal with this.” Fiona sloppily shoved Gary out of the way and pressed one side of her face against the door, hammering the door with one fist while drinking with the other. “Hey! W-who d’you shink you are?”
“Open the bloody door!”
At this burst of rage, Fiona’s eyes became wide and she puckered her lips, whilst her left eyebrow raised high into her forehead.
“H’oh really?” her decadent sloppiness increased with every syllable. “I forbid you t-to talk from, n-no, wait a minute. Ah! I forbid you from talking to me and him like that!” She reached over to Gary and flung her arms around him. “I know he maybe a complete dick, but he’sh my dick, he’sh my great, big, lovely dick!”
“Hey look, it’s Sandy!”
“Where?” asked Fiona excitedly.
“In the window.” said Gary ecstatically.
He pointed to a near-by window, only slightly less dirty than the one in the kitchen, but Sandy’s face was as plain as can be. Outside the restaurant, Leddy had worn his hands out from knocking on the door too much and so placing them carefully on his hips, he looked the restaurant over, seeing if there was any other way of getting in.
“What are they actually doing there?” he asked Sandy, exasperated.
“Well, Gary’s waving to me and Fiona’s kissing him on the cheek with her arms around him.” She waved back to Gary.
“What are you doing?” Leddy asked inquisitively.
“Keeping them amused.”
“Oh, so now you let your hair down? We’ve still loads to do!”
“Leddy, all four of us have managed to escape from being captured in a burning mansion filled with cocaine and we managed to get our village out of there! I think we deserve to be happy for a minute!”
“But it’s not over yet!”
“Yes, Leddy, I am aware of that!”
“Well you could’ve fooled me!”
Sandy raised her voice in retaliation to Leddy.
Leddy did the same with his voice.
But just as another of their arguments was about to erupt, a smashing of glass brought a cool simmer to the situation once more. The two of them turned towards the now frameless window with its glass strewn all over the outside grass. Where the frame should have been were now two heads, which stuck their way out into the cool, dark night.
“Hello!” called one voice, drunk and loose with its syllables.
“Hello!” called another voice, cheerily and totally oblivious to any danger that might be around it.
“Are you guys okay?” asked Fiona caringly.
“We’ve been fantashtic! An’ everything’s fantashtic! Hey, I know! Now that w-we’re, we’re all shafe, letsh have a party! Hey! W-we, we’ve figured out the shituashun! The drugsh and diamondsh are shlicshed together-”
“You’re definitely sloshed,” quipped Leddy, “and yes, we know the mess as well. Arthur sells them on for a profit and in return puts money back into the village, now did you manage to take care of Doris?”
“Great idea, letsh get her to join in ash well! C’mon, the night ish shtill young, the shuns not even gone to bed yet!”
Fiona pointed towards the village, where the faint, orange glow that Sylvester had noticed earlier was rapidly becoming darker and larger. Several small flames were also visible as they blazed away, ending closer and closer to the village with every second.
Suddenly, from the darkness, several peoples came running along the dusty road. One of them diverted from her path and ran over to the group of friends.
“Muriel, what are you doing?” asked Leddy, grabbing hold of her as she almost fell to the ground, panting and sweating.
“Haven’t you heard? We’re making a break for it! The whole village is gathering up what it can and just leaving this place to burn, that fire’s gone out of control!”
As she went on her way, more people dashed by, some on foot, some on bikes and some in vehicles. Leddy and Sandy stood next to each other in disbelief as they watched their life-long neighbours and friends leave their village to die.
“Ridiculous. Just, ridiculous!” Leddy turned back towards the restaurant. “Hey, where’s Fiona gone?”
“She’s down here having a nap.” said Gary helpfully.
Leddy climbed through the window closely followed by Sandy. Fiona was indeed asleep and had slipped down to the floor completely.
“Sandy, try and get her up again.” Leddy took Gary by the arm and pulled him over to a table and sat him down as calmly as possible. “Now then Gary, I’m going to need you to tell me exactly what’s been happening, but keep it short because there’s a fire on it’s way and it may well eat us up. So let’s hear it.”
“Right, well, erm, Fiona and me managed to escape and we sneaked into a van that was going away from the mansion and it took us to here and we got out with the van people and the van people took their masks off and so did we but then Doris remembered us from before and tried to beat us up but the main van person told her to leave us in the bar and out of the way but Fiona tried to follow the van people as they went into the kitchen and they had a lot of tools with them and she heard them talking about diamonds digging out the diamonds and so when we were alone she confirmed what we had thought before and that was that the diamonds get taken away from this place to the mansion and fiddled about with there.” Gary beamed with pride as he finished off the last word.
“Well done Gary,” said Leddy, plunging his hand into his pocket, “have a banana.” He drew forth the fruit and handed it to the eager Gary, who snatched it from him and tucked in at once.
“Are you sure that’s what happened?” called Sandy, who had been listening in.
A mumbled yet confirming grunt came from Gary as he devoured the banana.
“Leddy, can you get me some water for Fiona?”
“Okay then, Sandy.”
Leddy searched around the bar for any sign of water, but came up dry. He eventually brought a glass over to Sandy, who took it with a quick glance at first and began to bring it up to Fiona’s mouth. But then she stopped at stared at the glass bewildered.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“Blackcurrant juice, it’s the only thing back there that wasn’t alcoholic.”
Sandy perched the rim of the glass on Fiona’s bottom lip and gently tipped the glass forward, waiting for a response. The room then fell into a tense silence for a few moments, Sandy and Leddy eyeing Fiona’s every move and Gary content with his fruit. Neither Sandy nor Leddy knew what thoughts were going on in each other’s minds, but it couldn’t be further from each other at all. Their eyes fixated on Fiona but their minds focused on what had been said in the car earlier, both heads were swirling with weariness, emotion and questions, both asking exactly the same question.
Were they going to just forget what had happened in the car? Was it even worth thinking about what it would be like being in the arms of either person like before? Were they feeling awkward at all in this exact moment of silence?
Always one to jump at any given moment, Leddy turned ever so slowly to face Sandy, who was still keeping the glass firm on Fiona’s lips. But out of the corner of her eye, she could feel his gaze on her. Slowly, she too turned to meet the gaze. The gaze remained for a long time.
“Y’know,” began Leddy, shakily, “if we don’t get out of here, I guess there’s a chance that we could, well, die or something.”
“Yeah, I guess we could.” said Sandy, shyly, feeling as if she knew where Leddy was going with this.
“Well, if that’s true, then, maybe we should … you know …”
“Savour every moment?” answered Sandy, hopefully.
“Well, yes, I was thinking along those lines,” said Leddy, slightly dejectedly, “but now I’m thinking we should clean Fiona up.”
“Why?” said Sandy, her voice softly trailing away like a cloud being gently blown across a warm summer evening.
“Because you’re spilling blackcurrant juice all over poor Fiona.”
Sandy turned around sharply, and saw that much Fiona’s once pale skinned face was now a darker shade of purple. Sandy pulled her sleeve up across her fist and began wiping Fiona’s face, but Leddy quickly interjected.
“Here, let me.” he removed his jumper and proceeded to dab Fiona’s face down.
As he did so, both of them chuckled quietly, though Sandy attempted to cover her face as she broke out in a bright red blush.
“Don’t do that,” said Leddy, gently lowering her hand with his, “you look gorgeous no matter what colour you turn.”
Sandy added a beaming smile to her blush and she tried to control herself by biting her lip and turning her face away once again. Cupping her chin in his hand, Leddy gently brought her head round again to face his. He then began to edge forward.
“What are you doing?” whispered Sandy, her voice barely audible by now, as her heart feeling as though it was about to blast off.
Feeling her warm breath fall onto his face as she spoke, Leddy answered in equal quietness.
“Savouring every moment.”
But as they leaned in towards each other, mouths hanging open slightly and eyes blissfully closed, a jarring blast of activity stunned them into quickly moving away from each other. Sandy did so with such speed and force that she smacked the now empty glass into Fiona’s face, sending broken glass falling to the floor.
Spinning round, Leddy and Sandy saw Derek and his men come through the bar talking earnestly about their night’s work, each carrying their tools and various bags and boxes full of diamonds. The men were so engrossed with their work that it was Doris, following close behind the men, who noticed Leddy and Sandy. As the two stared at the face they had tormented earlier with fake critics earlier in the day, her face turned a repulsive concoction of dark colours, twisting and turning out of various hideous shapes, like a supernova being rammed into a food blender and turning the machine on, full blast.
Derek and his men then noticed the foursome, and Derek let slip a worn-out moan.
“Honestly Doris, you didn’t tell me you were running a nursery.” he then pointed to both of them, wiggling his finger between the two. “Do you two live here?”
“Yeah.” Leddy and Sandy both answered nervously, still staring at the trembling figure of Doris.
“Well why aren’t you up at the mansion working for Arthur?” he placed a hand on the doorknob. “You best come back with us.”
But before he could turn and pull the knob, it was done for him. From the other side, the door was flung open, sending Derek and his workers falling to the floor like dominos. Outside, Leddy could see the flames were getting increasingly near, the cold night air rapidly disappearing as the fierce warmth from the flames came flying through the restaurant.
From the darkness outside, a blackened figure walked in, clothes burnt yet somehow still holding together on their person. The person’s face and hands were a mixture of bright reds from being burnt and dark reds where the blood was slowly spilling out.
Doris’s jaw, which had been trembling with anger on seeing Leddy and Sandy back in her restaurant, suddenly dropped as she gazed upon this singed visitor.
“A-Arthur?” she spluttered.
Next, the final thrilling chapter, stay tuned!