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By Sarah Hapgood

The waters of the lake were as smooth as glass, apart from the gentle ripples created by Cloris, Jane and Tomas as they swam near their yacht. The lake, which was huge, was ringed by dense forest, with mountains looming up in the far distance.

“Hard to believe Evil’s running rampant when you look at all this innit?” said Joby, leaning on the bulwark “Though I suppose anything could be lurking in the forests”.

“That’s a relief, Jobe”, said Hillyard “I thought you were being positive there for a minute!”

“You’ve gotta admit though, it’s hard to believe there’s wickedness about on a day like this”, said Joby.

“Well it can’t be everywhere”, said Hillyard “However hard it tries”.

They moved back to the deck-chairs nearby on the main deck. Bengo was sleepily sprawled in one, his legs stuck out in front of him. Joby and Hillyard flopped down near him. The heat was still intense, but not as suffocating as what they had experienced on the Great Plain.

“I feel safe out here in the middle of nowhere”, said Bengo, drowsily “Shame we can’t stay here”.

“Just enjoy the moment Bengo, me old chum”, said Hillyard, patting his knee.

“I don’t understand why the Evil isn’t attacking us more”, said Bengo “I mean, they must know we’re around, and yet lately they’ve virtually left us alone. I don’t get it”.

“Bengo, stop thinking”, said Bardin, as he and Kieran came up on deck to join them “You know your brain can’t take it”.

“Leave him alone”, said Hillyard “He can have a ponder if he wants to”.

“Oh take no notice of him, Hillyard”, said Bengo “I swear he only says these things so he’ll get a spanking later”.

“We’re dolphins”, said Kieran, pulling over a chair.

“You what?” said Joby.

“If you think of the Evil as sharks”, said Kieran “Then we’re dolphins. And sharks are scared stiff of dolphins”.

“How so?” said Joby.

“Because dolphins can gang up on a shark”, said Kieran “They’re highly intelligent creatures. They communicate with each other, and they co-ordinate themselves to attack a shark by mass-ramming it. It’s probably better to say sharks are more confused by dolphins than scared of them. They don’t know what to make of them”.

“I expect the Evil doesn’t know what to make of us”, said Hillyard.

“It would be beyond such simple creatures as themselves”, said Kieran.

“That’s all very well”, said Joby “But we’re up against more than one of ‘em. In fact, They probably out-number us by mega amounts”.

Hillyard gave Joby an exasperated look.

“It doesn’t matter, Joby”, said Kieran “We still have a lot of strength on our side. We DO confuse them, and that’s a huge advantage for us. We have to stay alert though. We know from past experience that They can pull the rug out from under us at any time. Do random bizarre attacks. But that’s just to unsettle us. We have strength together though. They don’t”.

“Perhaps we should re-name this boat The Dolphin”, said Hillyard.

“The Indigo Dolphin”, said Joby.

“Why would dolphins attack sharks to begin with though, Kieran?” said Bengo.

“To protect their young”, said Kieran “Sharks will try and eat baby dolphins. They’ll also do it to protect humans. Back in our time I saw a programme on TV about a cruise-liner sinking in shark-infested waters. The survivors were protected by dolphins swimming round them in circles”.

“What a wonderful story!” said Bengo.

“Lonts’ll like that one”, said Joby.

Cloris clambered up the ladder to the yacht, and called over to them.

“You should have a dip in”, she shouted “The water’s like velvet”.

“Not a bad idea”, Hillyard called back.

“Come on Bardin”, said Bengo, nudging his old friend “Let’s have a dip. Get your trousers off”.

They all got to their feet, and prepared to get undressed for a swim. Suddenly Kieran stopped and stared towards the far side of the lake.

“What’s up?” said Joby.

“Look over there”, Kieran whispered.

Standing on a small pebbled promontory, which stuck out into the water, was a strange shape, like that of a heavily-veiled woman. Only she seemed curiously insubstantial, like a phantom.

“It might be her again”, said Kieran “The woman that Malachi and I saw a while back, further up the river”.

“Looks like a ghost”, said Joby.

“Quick”, Bardin snapped his fingers “The binoculars”.

Hillyard grabbed the binoculars, which had been sitting under Joby’s deck-chair, and handed them to Bardin. Frustratingly, it took a moment for him to adjust them, but once they were in focus he was just in time to see the apparition pull a veil over her face, and disappear from view.

“What’s the matter?” said Ransey, who had appeared on deck, to find everyone hanging over the bulwark on the port side, staring at the woods.

Bengo explained about the ghostly apparition.

“Is it still there?” said Ransey, although he could see by now that it wasn’t.

The others stood looking out to the shore as if expecting it to reappear at any moment.

“My news is probably a bit of a non-event after that”, said Ransey.

“Something about the wireless?” Bardin queried.

“Just another of those messages urging ‘survivors’ to report to their nearest ‘safety zone’”, said Ransey “It’s all damn lies”.

“Well at least there’s still survivors for them to broadcast to I guess!” said Bardin.

That evening Jane and Cloris came over to the galleon for dinner. The air was humid and thundery, and oil-lamps were lit to combat the darkness. In honour of their visitors, the Indigo-ites had put on their best clothes. Conversation rolled largely around their plans for the next day, but after a few drinks a light-hearted atmosphere developed Towards the end though a more sombre air developed when they discussed the strange woman in black who had been sighted on the shore.

“Was she warning us off, or beckoning us on?” said Cloris.

“No idea”, said Ransey “But it’s irrelevant, we’re moving on anyway. It’s either that, or go back all the way we’ve come”.

“I’ve got no time for things that just appear and draw attention to ‘emselves”, said Joby “If she’s got anything to say to us she should just say it, not keep hovering around like a bloody old fly. Too much bloody mystery in this world if you ask me. Everything should be open and above-board”.

“Isn’t it time you were in bed?” said Hillyard “If you’re going to start ranting like that”.

“Well Joby has a point”, said Cloris “The world seems to have overloaded on secrecy and mystery in recent years”

“It always did, old love”, said Adam.

“Perhaps in the new world we have to make sure there is openness”, said Cloris.

Julian broke the party up soon after this. He confided to Adam afterwards that it was in danger of getting political, and he wasn’t in the mood for that at this time of night.

Several of them saw the girls up onto the main deck, to make sure that they got back to the yacht safely. As they stood around, having a final chat in the humid darkness, Joby noticed a bright light towards the horizon. It was a couple of flashes in quick succession. As they watched, the sky was suddenly lit up by a glow of nuclear proportions. It died, down, and no further flashes were forthcoming.

“I don’t like the look of that”, said Joby “That looked like the bloody Bomb going off!”

“Good job we weren’t any nearer”, said Adam “Or it could have affected our eyesight”

“It was clearly a massive explosion of some sort”, said Julian “But let’s not go instantly jumping to any scary thoughts about nuclear bombs”.

“Let’s turn in”, said Bardin “The night-watch will keep us informed if anything else happens”.

When Bengo got to his cabin, he found Bardin standing by the open port-hole. Bardin had just stripped and washed, and was standing with the towel slung around his neck.

“Get into bed, Bardy”, said Bengo “It’s no good speculating what it was at this time of night”.

“It’s trouble, whatever it was”, said Bardin.

“Everything seems to be bloody trouble these days”, said Bengo, flopping onto the sofa and stretching out his legs “Whatever it was, it was a very long way off”.

“And we’re heading that way”, Bardin mumbled.

“For the time being”, said Bengo “Kieran says we have to put our faith in the Lord”.

“I’m sure he does”, said Bardin “Well, as we’re supposed to be a religious order, I guess that’s what we’ll have to do”.

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