Go back to previous chapter


By Sarah Hapgood

“This is a good spot, the veggies should do well here”, said Mutton Broth, who was helping Joby to rejuvenate the small kitchen garden behind the little cottage on the island.

“Yeah, I just hope we’re here long enough to see ‘em come up”, said Joby.

“Don’t you think we will be then?”

“Oh take no notice of me, Adam always says I carry on like the Voice Of Doom. It’s just that things have been so unsettled for so long that I’ve got used to us constantly having to move on”.

“Aye, but if it’s any comfort Bardin seems pretty determined to stay here until Cloris and the gang get here”, said Mutton Broth “And then they can take it over I suppose. Might be nice to present ‘em with a fully functioning vegetable garden”.

“God knows they’ll need a boost after the journey they’re gonna have”, said Joby “Thanks anyway, you’ve been a big help today. I’ll make sure Bardin hears about it”.

“He probably won’t believe it mind, he always said my only useful function was being thrown across tables in sketches”.

“Bardin can be a complete sod to you clowns at times. I dunno why you put up with him”.

“He knows what he’s doing, always has”, said Mutton “And some of us need kickstarting sometimes. He always says that about Bengo. Says if it wasn’t for him, Benje’d sit around picking his teeth all day long”.

“Yeah, he’s probably got a point here”.

Hillyard emerged from the scullery door of the cottage.

“Come in and taste the beer”, he said.

“It’s not ready already?” sadi Joby.

“Yeah”, said Hillyard “What did you expect us to have to bury it in the ground for 20 years or summat! Come on in quick, before Julian drinks it all”.

In the kitchen Julian was holding a glass of beer up to the light from the kitchen window.

“Give it a rest, Julian”, said Hillyard “It’s not misty, and you won’t find any dregs in it”.

“I shall be the judge of that”, said Julian, loftily.

Hillyard assembled a ragbag of cups and mugs on the counter top, and began to fill them from the tap of a beer keg.

“Here you are Mutton”, he said, handing over one of the cups “Get that down you before Bardin appears”.

“Cheers mate”, said Mutton Broth.

“Oh drink up Julian”, said Joby “I’ve never known you be slow about necking some booze before”.

“He’s determined to find fault with it, that’s what he is”, said Hillyard.

“I just happen to think that real ale is a more fine process than the quick knock up job you’ve done”, said Julian, who was still drinking it anyway.

Suddenly there was shouting in the main room, as Bardin came hurling through the cottage like a whirlwind.

“Now what?” said Joby.

“Couldn’t you hear me shouting!” said Bardin, appearing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living-room.

“By some miracle, no”, said Julian.

“We’ve found a doorway leading down into the island”, said Bardin.

“Eh?” said Joby.

“Don’t just stand there gaping”, said Bardin “Tear yourselves away from the beer and come and look”.

Instead of doing something so radical as abandoning the beer, they took their mugs with them. Bardin impatiently hustled them all outside. They followed him across to a grassy mound which was situated in the southern part of the top of the island. Rumble was waiting nearby. Two wooden doors were lying flung open on the side of the small mound, to reveal a flight of stone steps leading down into the inky darkness within.

“What?!” Joby exclaimed “How come we’ve never seen this before? We’ve been all over the top of the island since we’ve been here, how come we’ve only just found this?”

“God knows where this place is concerned”, said Bardin “Put it on a par with Kieran’s giant black rabbits”.

“Or the music we heard on the wireless that night”, said Mutton Broth.

“All part of the magic of the place”, said Hillyard, standing, beer-mug in hand, staring down the steps “Let’s hope this just leads down to the cavern at the bottom of the island. I think exploring it’s going to take a bit more organisation than just heading down right now”.

“In the meantime I think we should find some way of securing the entrance”, said Julian “Just in case”.

“That’s easy”, said Bardin, pointing at Rumble, who was holding a long wooden spike “The doors were barred on the outside when we found it”.

“Look at this way”, said Julian “It feels like the island’s slowly divulging its secrets”.

“I hope that means that it trusts us”, said Joby.

“I managed to get this from Christmas’s back room”, said Adam, pulling out a crumpled brown paper bag from one of the cupboards in the galley later that evening “Would you like a little mellow smoke?”

“Have you been hiding that behind the cooking brandy ever since we left the mainland?” said Joby, who was sitting in the chair by the stove.

“I was keeping it in case the clowns needed calming down at any point”, said Adam.

“It’d take more than a bit of weed to do that!” said Joby “Bloody sledgehammer more like!”

“Rumble has loaned me his tobacco tin and papers for the evening”, said Adam, coming over to join him.

“Go on then”, said Joby “Though I always find pot a bit of a bleedin’ disappointment. All it does is make me feel sleepy”.

“Nothing wrong with feeling mellow, old love”, said Adam, proceeding to roll a spliff.

“Praps we’ll get so mellow we’ll just roll with whatever surprises this island keeps chucking it”, said Joby “Considering we’re gonna have to stay here until Cloris and the gang get here, we’re gonna have to be more laid-back about it”.

“Good heavens, and you haven’t even inhaled yet!” said Adam, handing a joint to him.

“Must be Hillyard’s beer earlier”, said Joby.

They both smoked in amicable silence for a couple of minutes.

“I think we’ll make some rock cakes tomorrow”, said Adam, exhaling in a leisurely fashion “And add this as a little something extra”.

“It’s good stuff”, said Joby “D’you know, there’s one thing I’ve never understood about any of the Evil we’ve come up against over the years”.

“What’s that?”

“That it never occurs to them to split us up. That we’d be much weaker if we didn’t have each other. Amazes me. You’d think they’d go for that one like a shot. Kidnap Kieran and put him on a remote island somewhere … ‘cept they’d soon send him back again!”

“I think they simply don’t understand how human relationships work”, said Adam “It’s classic psychopath in that sense. They just don’t understand how we all need each other. Although there’s also the argument Patsy’s used at times, that They know we would become much more ruthless without each other. After all, if I was separated from the rest of you, there is nothing I wouldn’t do to find you again”.

“Yeah, you’d be a ruthless bastard you would”.

“Thanks Joby”.

“Not sure I’m comfy with these random things happening on the island though”, said Joby, after a few moments of silence “Doors opening where they shouldn’t, and what have you. They feel like booby-traps to me. What if it’s a doorway to another dimension, and we can’t get back out again. After all, that’s how we got into this time in the first place”.

“We can only roll with it, Joby”, said Adam, blowing out smoke from his nostrils “We do have to try and hang around until the yacht gets here. Easy as she blows, old love, easy as she blows”.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Go forward to next chapter

Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site