Go back to previous chapter
It was magically surreal flying back to the monastery. Everyone rushed up to the garden to greet them. Joby though was strangely preoccupied. He wanted to get down to the galleon, and when he did get down there he headed straight for his cabin, shutting himself in to be alone for a few minutes. Adam joined him there a short time later.
“I know it’s been hard for you, old love”, he said “But I do wish you’d spoken to Bengo. He’s been quite forlorn at times whilst you’ve been gone, like a dog dragging his tail”.
“Has he?” Joby nearly cried on hearing this news “Sorry but I just wanted to be here. There were times, right up to yesterday, when I thought Kieran would have us pissing about out there for the rest of the year! You know what he’s like when he gets all zealous on us. It’s been really hard to get through to him at times”.
“Well he’ll have to do as he’s told now he’s back home”, said Adam.
“I wonder what’ll happen to Lebicca now”, said Joby, absently opening his tote-bag and tipping his belongings onto the bunk.
“Hopefully a positive new era will emerge out of the rubble”, said Adam “But it’s an unhappy place, always has been, so I wouldn’t bank on it too much. Some places, some people, have never learnt the art of happiness”.
“And they probably wouldn’t want it if you taught ’em it!” said Joby.
“Oh there is a little something else I need to tell you”, said Adam, dropping his voice to a conspiratorial whisper “Julian got accosted by a demon in the monastery library one afternoon”.
“You what?” Joby exclaimed “Is the demon alright?!”
“That joke has been flying around quite a bit”, said Adam “We think it’s rather important you don’t tell Patsy about this, at least not until we’re well away from here”.
“What happened?” said Joby.
“It was a minor demon, appeared in the guise of an attractive young man”, said Adam “Julian wasn’t taken in though. He said he looked far too vacuous for his tastes. But anyway, the creature said it could show him a portal back to our own time, but it would just be for us 4 time-crossers. The usual pathetic attempt at a demonic bribe. Well of course Jules and I weren’t remotely interested, why on earth did it think we would be? And somehow I didn’t think you would be either”.
“Neither would Kieran”, said Joby, who felt a deep revulsion at the thought of returning to the 21st century. That thought on its own was bad enough, let alone leaving the others behind. “So why can’t I tell him though?”
“Because you know what he’s like”, said Adam “He might insist on delaying our departure so that he can exorcise the library or some such nonsense. We got the Arch-Pater’s assistant to do a little blessing instead. We didn’t tell the Arch-Pater. He does get so wound up about everything”.
The Indigo-ites made the decision to leave the monastery that very next day, which caused some consternation. Their reasons were very simple though. They had been waiting impatiently for 6 weeks to leave, plus a rapid departure would curtail any long, lingering, emotional scenes from Mabel-Ann, whose passion for Joby had (tiresomely) not abated at all.
“I don’t know how you have achieved everything”, said Lady Pegotty, when Kieran went up to say goodbye to her.
“Well to be honest it largely wasn’t my doing”, said Kieran.
“I don’t know how you did it”, Pegotty persisted “But our thanks are with you nonetheless”.
And yet thins weren’t really over. It was just that some particular obstacles had been removed, that’s all. The mystery around Abbus Isle and what had come out of the lake there during the storm to wreck such havoc remained a mystery. Lebicca would no doubt continue to be an unhappy place. And the jury was still out as to whether The Village Of Stairs would adopt a more benign and caring approach to prosperity. But sometimes in life things are like that. They don’t get solved, they just evolve instead.
“And then on evening some sea-bass, absolute perfection”, Umbert kissed his own fingertips in the age-old sign of culinary appreciation.
“Yeah alright”, said Joby, testily.
“I thought you might be interested”, said Umbert “You being a foodie”.
“I don’t wanna hear that whilst we’ve been living off boiled rice for 6 weeks”, said Joby “That you lot have been having a seafood banquet every bleedin’ night!”
“Hardly a banquet”, said Fabulous, who wasn’t going to be impressed by anything if he could possibly help it.
“As far as I’m concerned”, said Joby “It sounds like a banquet!”
He turned to head up the quarterdeck steps.
“We’ll make it up to you now you’re home”, Umbert shouted after him.
Joby grunted in reply, and stepped out onto the main deck, where Kieran and Mieps were standing facing the sea.
“There’s a storm coming in”, said Kieran, pointing at the swelling dark clouds to the west.
“The gulls are getting very excited”, said Mieps.
Kieran turned to face Joby, his Irish blue eyes alight with mischief.
“I think it would be a good night to slip anchor and sail off somewhere”, he said.
Joby could have kissed him that moment, out of sheer joy alone.
“Head out into the squall?” he said, the excitement showing in his voice.
“I think we’ve had enough of being land-lubbers for a while”, said Kieran “Don’t you?”
Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site