Helpful Leddy, a story of exploding restaurants, runaway rivers and teenage love – Chapter Ten

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.

    “Why?”

    “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.

    “Yes!”

    “Then who am I?”

    “You’re you!”

    “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.

    “Oh, really?”

    Leddy did the same with his voice.

    “Yes, really!”

    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!

Another Month’s Worth of Poetry

So here I am, another month’s worth of poetry in the bag. Its brought me some new admirers to my blog, but most of all its kept my love of writing fresh. Thanks to everyone who liked/loved/hated/whatevered my work, you’re the best! 😀

Dancing Flesh

Ripping Milligan

Frosty Views

Into the Snugly Chalk

Winter’s Burst

Winter’s Rest

Far-off Quacks

Here Comes December

Beneath the Dust

The Dream Girl

Drunken the Snow

Outside, the Snow Looks In

Viva La Verse!

Helpful Leddy, a story of runaway rivers, exploding restaurants and teenage love – Chapter Nine

The not-quite-penultimate chapter!

Bolting along the corridor, Leddy and Sandy kept turning round to keep track of who might be after them, although Sandy remained unimpressed.

    “I’ve had enough of all this running! Please, let’s just get out of this place and find the others.”

    “You don’t think I’m trying to do that? God, this place is like a maze, we’ll never get out of here!”

    With every few galloping steps they took they had to violently halt to turn a corner, and they almost fell down or crashed into various flights of steps, some small, some large.

    They had nothing to guide them along except various paintings hung wearily against the bright, white walls that rose high into the air. Each painting seemed worn-out, almost unconscious, as if no-one had stopped to gaze at them for years and years. Once multi-coloured canvases had turned to a faded grey with the ages and even though no-one seemed to care about these poor characters, they didn’t seem to care for Leddy and Sandy. They appeared as though to laugh and jeer at them as they tore through the corridors that suddenly looked as though they were getting narrower and narrower.

    The more the two of them ran, the smaller everything became, the walls slowly closed in on them, squeezing their arms, and the roof came lower and lower, until they began to feel it brushing against their heads. The more they ran, the more it felt as if there was no way of escape. Until finally, as Leddy and Sandy clung to each other for comfort against the imposing forces…

    “Y’know, if it’s not too much trouble, it would be nice if we could get back to reality and move the plot along.”

    “Yeah, you’ve just left us running around like lab rats and gone off into your own little world!”

    I’m sorry; I just like seeing the two of you thrown together in a situation of uncertainty and danger! It’s what makes a good read!

    “You know what also makes a good read? Keeping them interested and keep the story moving, which isn’t what’s happening now!”

    Well if you’re so smart maybe you don’t need my expertise after all!

    “Oh for god’s sake, will you two just shut up! Please, just get us out of here and carry on with the story.”

    Oh very well. As Leddy and Sandy swerved violently round a particularly tight corner, they spied a small, wooden door straight ahead of them.

    “This could be our way out, c’mon!” Sandy grabbed Leddy by the hand and, with the other outstretched ready to push the door open, ran as fast as she could. Bashing the door in, the two of them found themselves standing in a room that looked as though it hadn’t been used for years. Several grubby windows let in some moonlight that gave the room a cold and damp feel. Several pieces of furniture stacked either against or on top of each other were caked in cobwebs and dust. They all seemed to be limp and dejected in the dank light. And in the middle of the room, floating gently in the still night-time was a great ball of fire. Sandy initially gave a shriek, but Leddy moved closer to the flame, slowly and thoughtfully.

    “Leddy, come back! What are you doing?”

    “It looks sad.” said Leddy caringly.

    “Leddy, how the hell can a fire look sad?”

    “Well, it just looks all depressed and unhappy,” he edged closer still, “and it sounds like it’s sobbing slightly.”

    Sandy let out a moan of despair and brought her hands to her face at the same time.

    “Right, well when you’ve managed to cheer that thing, up, I’ll be waiting for you outside.”

    She ran off to where another small wooden door stood at the other end of the room. Opening it ajar, she saw that it led back onto the landing of the mansion. At the far end of the landing, she could see Arthur talking with several guards, who stood around him in a circle.

    Sandy slowly and quietly shut the door behind her and crouched down behind a soaring pillar that rose all the way up to the roof, keeping a watchful eye on what Arthur was up to.

    Meanwhile, Leddy was now convinced that the ball of fire was indeed quietly sobbing to itself. He sat on the floor with his legs crossed and clasped his hands, fascinated by what he saw.

    “Erm, hello?” he asked the flame, after a moment’s silence. “How are you doing?” he inquired, adding an air of friendly confidence to his voice. The flame merely sobbed away. Then a light came on in Leddy’s head, as he remembered where he had seen this poor creature before. “Hey, you’re that fire from downstairs, when Arthur had us all in the library!” The flame let out a small whimper of confirmation. “Did we disturb you, or something?” Leddy asked. The flame gave another whimper of confirmation. “Oh I’m sorry, we didn’t mean to. Fact is, we shouldn’t even be here. It’s all got a little bit out of hand. I was just trying to make things right between me and this girl, trying to show her how helpful I can be. But instead I’ve just made things worse, and now I suppose I’ve upset you too.” The ball of fire hovered over next to Leddy, extending its flame to create something akin to an arm and wrapping itself around Leddy. “Aw thanks, you’re a real sweetie.” The ball of fire gave a small gurgling sound of appreciation. As the two of them stood there, their backs to the window which continued to shine its dull, murky moonlight, Leddy then looked up to the ball of fire with a smile. “Hey, I tell you what, do you want to have a bit of fun?” The ball of fire gave an enthusiastic response. “Okay then, here’s my idea…”

    While all this was going on, Sandy was listening in intently to what Arthur had to say.

    “Those two kids can’t do much damage while they’re here, they can’t get out without getting past you fine boys.”

    The guards beamed with delight, but one of them scratched his head, and turned to his neighbour.

    “If they can’t get out without getting past us,” he whispered, “shouldn’t we be down near the exits in case we do come across them?”

    “Shut up, the boss is talking.” his neighbour snapped back.

    “The best we can do for now is carrying on with the production line. We’ve got enough to last us well into the night and Simon and his boys are digging out the last of the diamonds from Doris’s place, so not long to go now.”

    “Wouldn’t this information be more useful to the workers?” piped up the inquisitive guard.

    “If we told them now, they may demand some kind of reward for all their hard work, which they shall be getting anyway in the shape of a sprucing up of their village with the money we make from this little venture. I want them to wake up to that sprucing, what a sight that will be for them!”

    “But if you spend the profits on the village, how much will we have left-over?”

    “Oh quite enough, I promise you. I’m not planning on spending millions on this dump. A new lamp-post here, a new tree there, that ought to keep them amused.”

    Sandy lay still, absorbing all that she heard.

    “You rotten bastard,” she whispered under her breath, “You won’t get away with this; especially if you won’t have any workers doing your dirty work.”

    Slowly getting up, she kept as discreet as possible and began to make her way downstairs. Her plan was to tell the villagers all she heard and get them away from here as far as possible. Every step she took along the landing was as precise and delicate as the last. As she began to turn the corner, her heart began pounding harder than before. She would soon be in full view of Arthur and his men, but as long as she could stay quiet, there was a chance she would make it.

    Suddenly, a great ball of fire came crashing through the wall behind her, and it swirled its way all through the landing before blasting off high into the ceiling, setting anything it could on fire. Arthur and his men were taken completely by surprise and fell to their knees, not knowing what was going on, nor did Sandy. But then she felt a hand grab hers and she soon found herself being pulled through thick grey and black smoke down the mighty staircase. Down below, the fire had reached the ground floor, and she heard shouts and screams from people pouring out from various rooms and making their way towards the main entrance.

    The smoke grew thicker and blacker and she had to close her eyes and hold her breath as she ran. Then she felt a cool breeze flow through her hair and she found herself outside with many of the residents from inside. Looking around, she saw several familiar faces from the village, all checking and comforting each other from the shock of what had just happened. Looking at the villagers bonding in such a way, Sandy felt a warm glow flow through her body; even some of the guards whom she recognised from earlier were tending to the villagers.

    Then she brought her gaze to a smiling individual who stood right in front of her. It was a face that thought it had done well, but even after knowing Sandy for so much time, could not account for the anger with which it was about to receive.

    “Leddy, you idiot!” she flew a punch straight at him, and he toppled over, falling to the ground.

    “How did you even know it was me?!” he said, rubbing his face delicately.

    “Oh please, this has you written all over it!”

    “I was just trying to help out that ball of fire! Listen…”

    “Oh shut up!”

    She shoved him out of the way and raised her voice as loud as she could.

    “Listen everyone; you don’t have to do this anymore! Arthur was never going to make out village better! He was just going to take the money and run! And you should do the same!”

    Suddenly, she felt herself being grabbed from behind, as did Leddy.

    “There’s no need to panic, my dears.” said Arthur, walking past Leddy and Sandy, slightly burnt but still in once piece. “These two children are only here to cause trouble. We will attend to anyone who may be injured. In the meantime, please excuse us as we dispose of these miscreants.”

    But the villagers hardly heard a word Arthur said and, swarming through the trees like headless chickens, they headed up the hill that surrounded the mansion and away from the rapidly burning building as fast as they could. The more they looked up as they clambered up the steep hill, the more the sky seemed to turn from a smouldering, faint orange to a fiery, snarling red.

    Arthur failed to even notice the villagers running for their safety as he stood before his once great home, his palace, and had his great plan come together, surely would have become his empire. But all was not lost. As he stood, watching the flames turning a repulsive yet captivating blood red, he felt someone violently grabbing his arm and spinning him round.

    “Sir, we’ve got to get out of here now!”

    Arthur turned his head to face the mansion for the last time.

    “Fetch my car.” he said, still facing the building.

    The man hurried off to where the remaining four guards stood, a good majority of them having either now been burnt alive or had followed the logic of the villagers. Two of them were hanging on tightly to the struggling Leddy and Sandy.

    “Right men, fetch his car, we’re getting out of here, and now!”

    One of them headed towards the garage, leading the two guards that had Leddy and Sandy tightly in their grip and the remaining two guards following behind. The garage was located to the right of the house, the opposite way to where Gary and Fiona had managed to escape. As the cavalcade made their way, several explosions resulted in planks of wood and slabs of concrete from the house blasting off into the sky and falling in all directions, some landing where the group were hastily making their way. Having to turn in all directions to avoid being bombed by flying debris, the journey was made longer than one would have thought.

    Arthur remained staring at his once beloved home, before lighting a cigarette, taking one long drag of thick, white smoke, which got lost in the ensuing fire, and then the cigarette followed suit. Placing his hands in his pockets, he sighed as he watched the cigarette sink into the flames never to be seen again.

    He then spun round suddenly as a resounding crash rang out into the darkness and several screams did likewise. Looking at his men and Leddy and Sandy, he saw several pieces of freshly blown-up rubble just in front of where Leddy and Sandy were, but no guard in front of them. Or rather, he was in front of them, but the rubble had claimed him for their own needs. Leddy and Sandy gazed in shock at the pile of concrete with a couple of bloody arms and legs sticking out from beneath the rubble. The remaining guards also looked on in amazement, before turning to Arthur like scared puppies would turn to their master in hope of comfort.

    Arthur gazed at the rubble, then his men, and began to make his way down the steps that once led into the mansion.

    “Must I do everything myself?” he muttered under his breath.

    Picking up from where the lead guard had left off, Arthur strode silently, ignoring the falling debris that flew all around him. As he came to the garage door, he turned round to face his men.

    “Wait here.” he ordered, and was gone in a flash.

    “But sir,” called out one the guards at the rear, “you’ll need these!” and he jangled a set of keys in the air, but to no response.

    Inside the garage, Arthur switched on the lights. They shone brightly down on a handsome, black Rolls Royce. There was no way the fire would claim this as well as his home. He ran his hands along its smooth yet cold exterior, before suddenly feeling a sharp twitch enter his body. Finding the nearest chair, he sat down rapidly, his whole body shaking, his palms becoming plump, pale and sweaty. Reaching inside his jacket pocket, he drew forth a small bag of white powder and a long, thin straw. With no time to set out the powder properly, he simply opened the bag, plunged the straw deep into it, and snorted away. Within 10 seconds, half of the contents of the bag had been consumed and Arthur lay back into his chair, feeling peaceful once more, his mouth hanging open slightly.

    “Oh yes…” he mumbled to himself, dreamily, “all will be well…”

    Meanwhile outside, the guards were growing restless.

    “Oh, this is ridiculous!” said one of the rear guards, and stormed off towards hill.

    “Where are you going?” asked the second rear guard.

    “I’ve had it with Arthur and all his bullshit! This has gotten too far out of hand! I’m getting out of here before I get killed!”

    But inside the mansion, the fire had reached the underground level, where the electricity, gas and water were run and kept in check. The flames spread all around the darkened rooms where several controls, switches and levers lay asleep to the danger that had engulfed them.

    As the flames filled the room, they looked around themselves hungrily. Aside from the various controls, switches and levers, much of the underground was empty. The flames let out a crying moan of hunger, still not satisfied with what it had already consumed.

    At last, giving into temptation, the flames engulfed all that they saw, leaving every control, switch and lever swamped in a fiery blaze of hunger. The resulting explosion tore through the remains of the mansion and shook the ground where the group on higher ground stood.

    As the runaway guard collapsed in a heap, he looked up and saw the mansion in its full burning glory. Dazed and confused from the fall, the mansion seemed to turn into a dragon breathing fire, when in fact the underground explosion had sent a raging flame shooting out of the main entrance.

    Looking up, the other guards and Leddy and Sandy could see that the explosion was the final straw for the mansion. Cracks galloped through the walls and pillars, sending great slabs of brick plummeting gracelessly towards the ground.

    In panic, the guards finally gave up their futile efforts in obeying a master who cared little for them and ran in any direction they could. But before Leddy and Sandy could do likewise, Leddy jumped for one of the guards whom he had kept a watchful eye on earlier. Landing on his back and bringing him to the ground, he pinned the man down whilst fumbling inside his pockets.

    Sandy looked back one she noticed Leddy wasn’t with her and let out a cry that got lost in the sea of pummelling explosions, crackling flames, and crumbling concrete. Leddy finally sprang to his feet and dashed to join Sandy.

    “What were you doing?” asked Sandy as Leddy grabbed her hand.

    “Hitching a ride.” answered Leddy.

    Tearing towards the garage, they charged their way in through the side door and found Arthur, still in a deep trance and almost asleep.

    “Let’s get going!” said Leddy, running round to the driver’s seat whilst Sandy took the passenger side.

    Starting the engine up, Sandy suddenly turned wide-eyed as she noticed something important.

    “Who’s going to open the garage door?!” she asked hysterically, having to shout over the revving of the engine.

    Leddy turned to her with that reckless smirk she had seen many times before.

    “We are.”

    Letting the handbrake down, Leddy put both feet on the pedal and shot his head forward to enjoy the ensuing crash even more so. However, he was at first surprised to notice that Sandy’s head had also shot forward. He was even more surprised to notice that instead of driving closer to the garage door, they were driving away from the door.

    “Bloody hell, this doesn’t look right!” screamed Leddy.

    The ensuing crash did indeed ring out, but not in the way Leddy had anticipated. Shelves fell instantly to the floor, bringing with them various paint pots and toolkits which rather wrecked the back of the car, but none more so then the branch. Failing to stop as soon as they had mangled their way out of the garage the wrong way, Leddy drove the car into the hill and a low hanging tree with several protruding branches, one of which smashed through the back window and snaked along all the way to the front of the car. Even when the car came to a stop thanks to colliding with the tree to which the branches belonged, Leddy still had his foot on the accelerator.

     “Oh, for God’s sake!” Sandy took it upon herself to wrestle with the gearbox until the right gear was selected. And even when it had been selected, no amount of firm seatbelts could keep Leddy and Sandy in their seats the car surged forward raggedly, its back end now completely screwed. Not knowing which button turned on the headlights, Leddy allowed the fire to light the way along the drive and up the hill.

    As they mounted the hill at breakneck speed, Sandy looked back at the mess they left behind. As they drove, she could see that the flames were rapidly spreading to the trees, and not only that, but the flames seemed to be chasing after the car.

    “Go faster Leddy, the fires catching up with us!” Leddy looked behind to see for himself. “Oh God, don’t look back, look forward you idiot!”

     Regaining control of the wheel, Leddy drove through the densely laid out forest. At first, their journey was smooth enough, albeit for Leddy’s limited driving skills, but soon they felt themselves driving on uneven terrain and constantly driving into, and running over, the various pure and innocent features that Mother Nature had so carefully grown all by herself.

    “Why did you go off the road?!” shouted Sandy.

    “I was using the fire to see my way, but now we’re moving away from it and I can’t see where the hell I’m going!” shouted Leddy in reply, slight louder than Sandy’s original cry.

    “Oh you just love that fire don’t you?” shouted Sandy, deliberately louder than Leddy, “Why did you have to go and mess everything up like you always do?”

    “I knew exactly what I was doing!” retorted Leddy, picking up on her raised voice and retaliating with his, “You’ve never trusted my judgement at all!”

    “Oh, like that time we were in Brazil,” shouted Sandy, again, deliberately louder than Leddy, “and you said I should try shaking hands with all those electric eels?”

    “That was different!” shouted Leddy, again, deliberately louder than Sandy, “You were absolutely lampshaded off your head! You’ve only yourself to blame for that!”

    “You could’ve stopped me! If you really cared about me, if you really loved me!”

    “Oh please, you would’ve done exactly the same thing if it was me shaking hands with an electric eel!”

    “No, I wouldn’t!” they had broken free from the forest by now and found themselves ploughing through a field of corn. “I would’ve saved you because I loved you, you idiot! You idiot, idiot, idiot!” as she let out those trilogy of words, she proceeded to thump Leddy on the arm with her fist.

    Leddy suddenly stopped the car instantly, turned off the engine, and turned to Sandy.

    “What… what did you say?” he said, completely perplexed by her outburst. Sandy turned away from him, letting her head hit the headrest and looked up towards the top of the car. For a moment, there was silence as tears slowly began to swell up in her eyes. “Hey c’mon now Sandy, you can’t just leave me hanging like that! I told you I love you enough times, so how come you never returned the favour?”

    Sandy let her head down, wiping away the tears which were brimming on the edge of her eyes. Once they were cleared away, she turned to him, her voice slightly shaky.

    “Leddy, I couldn’t tell you because, well, oh God. Because you’re just, well… you.”

    “What does that mean?”

    “I mean, well, look at you! You’re so carefree and laid-back. You don’t worry about anything or anyone and you never let anything get you down. I was afraid that if I told you how I really felt, then it wouldn’t mean anything to you.”

    Leddy lent in a little closer, taking her hand.

    “I always worried about you.” he said softly, “I was always worried about us because, whenever I said I love you, and you never said it back, well, how else was I supposed to feel?”

    “Did you really mean it?” Sandy asked, her voice quivering even more.

    “Every time.” answered Leddy, taking her other hand and clasping the two within his own hands.

    Sandy let go a small, whimpering smile.

    “Well,” she said, “shit.”

    “Tell me about it.”

    The two of them sank back into their seats, both of them slightly relieved that the truth had finally managed to be said.

    “So,” began Sandy, straightening herself and leaning closer to Leddy, whilst looking up at him hopefully with slightly tear-stained eyes and a stronger smile than before, “what do we do now?”

    Leddy looked behind him, where a faint glow could be seen shimmering away in the pit, growing brighter by the second.

    “We should probably find Gary and Fiona, and then call the fire brigade or something.”

    He started up the engine whilst Sandy settled back into her seat, somewhat crestfallen, the smile now gone.

    “Idiot.” she said. But her voice was drowned away in the revving of the engine and the crushing of corn as Leddy, at last finding the headlight switch, made their way back to the winding, gravelly road which led back to Doris’s restaurant.

Outside, the Snow Looks In, a poem

My snow-strewn fingers
Melt into your hair.
I unfold your arms
Like old Christmas cards.

Red-tinted shadows,
Reaching from the fireplace,
Tickle your palms.

Stretching for my snoozy soup,
Its coiling steam wreathes
Your Rudolph nose.

Your dozy cocoa
Sizzles with mellow murmurs,
Nearly lost in a sleepy song.

Between each sweet froth,
Flames get thinner
And flakes get thicker,
While we quietly pour
Into each other,

Like the snow on the
Outside window sill,
Peeping in.

The Adventures of Issac and Erwin, Episode Two

In today's episode, Luke discovers Issac has conquered the Tower of the Unused Cupboard...

In today’s episode, Luke discovers Issac has conquered the Tower of the Unused Cupboard…

....and Issac begins his reign of terror over the house...
….and Issac begins his reign of terror over the house…

....while Erwin is distraught with fear for his brother, and jealously that he didn't make it up there first...

….while Erwin is distraught with fear for his brother, and jealously that he didn’t make it up there first…

....but then it dawns on Issac that being the king of the Tower comes at a price...

….but then it dawns on Issac that being the king of the Tower comes at a price…

...he may never find a away back down. Ever again...

…he may never find a away back down. Ever again…

...is all hope lost?

…is all hope lost?