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By Sarah Hapgood

Time seemed to drift on the island. The weather got locked into a pattern of cool, dry greyness, and this made the entire area seem as if it was stranded in some limbo all of its own. An unexpected plus side to all this was that it gave everyone an illusion of being completely detached from the rest of the world and all its ongoing madness.

“This isn’t true of course”, Ransey pointed out.

“Yes we are aware of that, old love”, said Adam.

The Indigo-ites were still with Cloris and the rest of the yacht crew on “Hy Brasil” as Kieran had nicknamed it, and it was starting to bother them. Even mild suggestions by Bardin that it was time they moved to the neighbouring island were met with such sorrowful dismay that it became almost impossible to implement any plan.

“This is ridiculous”, said Julian “They are grown adults, they have proven themselves well and truly able to take care of themselves, they don’t need us around, and even if they did, we wouldn’t exactly be a million miles away! You’re going to have to talk sense to Cloris, Adam, she’s more likely to listen to you than the rest of us”.

“Oh why, for God’s sake?” said Adam.

“Can you see Bardin doing it?” said Julian “Mr Tact And Diplomacy himself!”

“I know what the others must be saying”, said Cloris, as she lay with Adam on a chaise-longue in the main room of the cottage on the island one afternoon “And I know it must seem strange to you all, that we’re being so clingy. But you must understand, the carpet has been whipped out from underneath us so drastically. We’ve been wandering around for years now, with no plan, and no idea where we’re going. Everytime we think we’ve found a place to begin all over again, like Hannah’s Sanctuary, we suddenly have to uproot and run away. We have nothing left to hang onto. And this island, it’s too strange for us to conceive of staying here for a long time, but we have nowhere else to go. The mainland has become so hostile, we don’t know it anymore”.

“I certainly don’t recognise it, and that saddens me greatly”, said Adam “When I look back at some of the experiences we’ve had since we came to this world, the happy experiences I mean, I don’t recognise the world as it has become. Places like The Bay, Toondor Lanpin, Snow Lake, Zilligot Bay, all seem to have vanished into another life”.

He added to himself “the price of immortality”, but didn’t voice this out loud.

“We feel safe with you lot”, said Cloris.

“Good heavens, really?!” said Adam, jokingly.

“Oh I know you all like your privacy”, said Cloris “But we won’t interfere I promise you. You can have your side of the island, and we’ll keep to ours. And we won’t appear on the galleon unless we’re invited, or it’s an emergency …”

“Now stop, you don’t have to promise all this”, said Adam “Really you don’t. If we seem a bit obsessive about our privacy, it’s simply because we know how weird we all are, and we don’t want to embarrass anybody. We do silly things like appear naked at odd times”.

“Well that’s OK”, said Cloris “We could do with a laugh”.

“You cheeky miss”, said Adam “And Bardin likes to walk around in his underwear, up on deck. And he’ll feel he won’t be able to do that if you’re around”.

“I promise to avert my gaze”, said Cloris “Although I can’t believe it’s anything I haven’t seen before. Anyway, we’re quite fond of doing things like that sometimes. I’ve gone jogging in my underwear in the past”.

“That must have been a delightful sight”.

“Back in the City I once did it in a heatwave, and ended up having to be cut out of my pants by a helpful old man”.

“Oh I’m sure he was very helpful!” said Adam.

“Please stay on the island”, said Cloris “I don’t mean you have to stay by us forever, but just for a little while, a few months say, at least until we see where things are going”.

“I’m not going to be popular”, said Adam “I’ve been under pressure to persuade you that we need to go to the other island, and now I have to go back with no result!”

“Are we so dreadful to live on the same island with?” “Now Cloris, please stop it. You’re the last woman I’d expect to be coquettish. Jane, yes, and I’ve known Glynis try such tricks in the past”.

“But I’m too sensible?”

“There’s nothing wrong with being sensible. God knows the world could do with more of it, and it may yet be down to you to provide it”.

Suddenly a nearby armchair shot a few feet across the floor.

“I don’t see me being very sensible if things like that keep happening”, said Cloris, once she had regained her breath.

“You are the very last man on Earth that I would expect to fall for a woman’s wiles”, said Julian, when Adam had got back to the galleon “That’s one of the reasons we sent you over there to talk to her!”

“Well I’m sorry Jules, but when she started talking about it, I could see she spoke a lot of sense”, said Adam “There is a certain strength in us all staying together, and it’s not as if we’ll be living in each other’s pockets”.

“I damn well hope not!” said Julian “You’re the one who’s going to have to break it to Bardin, he won’t be pleased”.

“Oh leave me to handle Bardin”, said Adam “It’s not as if I don’t know how!”

“Hello Adam, it’s me”, said Bengo, appearing round the door to Julian’s cabin.

“So it is, old love”, said Adam.

“Joby says we’d better call you along before we get started on the pies, or he says you’ll moan your head off”, said Bengo.

“Joby is a fine one to talk about anyone moaning”, said Adam.

There was the sound of a man’s footsteps running along the corridor towards them, and Ransey now appeared in the room, looking breathless and fractious.

“Where the hell is Bardin?” he snapped “He’s always around when I don’t want him, and never around when I do!”

“He’s good at that”, said Bengo.

“Where is he, Bengo?” said Ransey, holding onto the door for support.

“I’m not sure”, said Bengo “I haven’t seen him for a couple of hours”.

“What’s the matter, Ransey?” asked Adam.

“I can’t explain now”, said Ransey “I need to get hold of Bardin, I’ll go and see if he’s appeared in his cabin whilst I’ve been here”.

He went back hurtling along the corridor.

“Oh dear”, said Adam “I don’t like the sound of that at all”.

Ransey hurtled into Bengo and Bardin’s cabin, and found Bardin pouring himself out a glass of sherry. Ransey’s sudden noisy appearance in the room caused him to spill most of it.

“Never mind all that now”, Ransey grabbed him by the wrist “Come with me”.

“At least let me put the glass down first!” said Bardin, trying to set it back on the table without mishap.

Ransey propelled him into the wireless room, and handed him the headset.

“Who am I talking to?” said Bardin.

“No one, just listen”, said Ransey.

A horrendous cacophony of noise assailed Bardin’s ears. He later described it as like the sound they had heard in the Sea of Torment, but magnified a hundredfold. It was interspersed with what sounded like the drunken, incoherent ravings of a mad man.

“I don’t think this is being directed at us personally”, said Ransey, when Bardin tore the headphones away “I think whoever is doing this is flooding the airwaves with this crap”.

“But what is it?” said Bardin “I mean, what exactly is it meant to be? It just sounds like a load of noise, what’s the point of it?”

“It’s a wall of negativity”, said Ransey “I think that’s what whoever-it-is is trying to do, to flood any wireless airwaves with this, to do a mass traumatisation. I’ve come across this sort of thing years ago, back in my Ministry days. It’s an old, old mass manipulation trick”.

“Thank God timing’s not their thing”, said Bardin “At least the yacht gang are here, and they’re not trying to reach us through all this rubbish”.

“Exactly”, Ransey suddenly reached across and ripped several wires and cables out of the wireless set.

“What are you doing?!” Bardin exclaimed.

“We don’t need this damn thing for a while”, said Ransey “This wireless set is the bloody bane of my life sometimes. I seem to spend hours glued to it”.

“I thought you liked it!”

“I used to, but now it seems in danger of taking over my existence. I’m constantly coming in here to try and find out what’s going on in the outside world, and I’m sick of it. This rubbish is the last straw. Now that the Cloris and the others are safely here, we don’t need it for a while. I promise I’ll fix it again … sometime in the future”.

“Well I hope you’ll remember how to!” said Bardin.

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