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By Sarah Hapgood

“I don’t think this thing works anymore”, said Joby, tapping the barometer on the wall “It’s been set on Stormy since we got here, and the weather’s been pretty mild really”.

“Goodness knows how long it is since this place was lived in”, said Adam “Although it’s a lovely little place. All these deserted places we often find, and yet we rarely find out what happens to the people who lived in them”.

They were standing in the main ground floor room of a place they had called Pebble Cottage, due to its situation on the beach where they had moored the galleon. It was a one-up one-down sort of a place, with a makeshift lean-to housing a rudimentary lavatory on one side. At the rear was a courtyard garden, which had clearly once been somebody’s pride and joy. Joby already had plans for it. As a location for the Indigo-ites it was perfect. It was backed up completely by the mountain range, which would make it very hard for anyone to sneak up on them at the rear (to coin a phrase). It had a concrete jetty wading out into the ocean, connecting them to the land. The concrete insured that it was safe to move the animals along, without any risk of rotting wood plunging them into the sea. It was the first point they had found on reaching the New Continent, and they knew the moment they saw it that they had struck gold.

“It’s probably going to be a long while before we find anywhere again as convenient as this”, Bardin had said.

Pebble Cottage quickly became an extension of the galleon. They felt more at home there than they ever had with the cottage on Hy Brasil. Partly because it was more conveniently situated right on the beach, and partly due to its lack of “strange energies”, as Kieran had put it.

Bardin appeared, carrying the ship’s spare telescope up the verandah steps. He put it down in the space next to the cottage’s main door.

“What’s that in aid of, Bardin?” said Adam.

“I would’ve thought that was obvious”, said Bardin, straightening up “It’s to look out to sea”.

“What, in case the Loch Ness Monster appears?” said Joby.

“I think it would be useful that’s all”, said Bardin “If we weren’t planning to stay here I wouldn’t bother, but as we’re planning to be here for some while, then we might as well”.

“Huh!” said Bengo “Are you sure you’re not doing it to keep an eye on the Third Island?”

The Third Island could be seen, on a clear, day, in the distance to the North-West.

“Alright”, said Bardin “I’m not going to lie. It’s to look at that as well, and why not? It’s not as if I’m suggesting we go over there now, is it”.

“It’s fine, we understand”, said Adam “But don’t get obsessed with the place, that’s all. We do have to move on from them now”.

“I know I know”, said Bardin “And that suits me fine. The ungrateful sods”.

“Now let’s not go down that route, mate”, said Joby “We did what we could, and only a spiteful, petty-minded little shit could say otherwise. Leave ‘em to it. We’ve got enough to do to be going on with”.

Further along the beach, Kieran, Hillyard and Ransey were exploring the mouth to a cave.

“Roomy enough”, said Hillyard, as they waded through the rock-strewn shallows “We could hide the galleon in here if we had to”.

“I feel somewhere in this area is the entrance to the subterranean tunnels”, said Kieran “It would make sense. The Third Island is almost in direct line with the entrance here. Jayz, we’ve got plenty to explore in this area”.

“And that’s not even counting the mountain range”, said Hillyard “And what could be on the other side of that”.

Kieran wandered to the back of the cave, and found a twisting flight of narrow stone steps cut into the rocks. Ransey followed him closely as he went up them. At the top was a weather-beaten wooden door. A howling draft came through the gaps in the panelling. Kieran turned the handle and pushed it open. They came out onto the headland.

“This place is damn near perfect”, said Kieran “We even have our own look-out point”.

“Fuck me, those steps are steep”, said Hillyard, breathlessly “You went up ‘em like a mountain goat!”

“Reminds me of an old Irish castle”, said Kieran, the wind whipping his long hair about. He pivoted around, looking in all directions. The mountains faced the sea head-on for as far as the eye could see.

“God, I hope this place doesn’t turn out to be a wrong ‘un”, said Hillyard “I think it’d break my heart”.

“The New Continent went through its massive purge a long time ago”, said Ransey, recalling the carnage they had had to clear up in the city “Hopefully it’s now resting”.

“I’ll Bless the area anyway”, said Kieran “Just to be on the safe side”.

The following day it began to snow. Only little flurries, but enough to cause some excitement. Bardin went along the concrete jetty towards Pebble Cottage, and found Farnol and Rumble dancing on the beach.

“What are you clots doing now?” Bardin exclaimed.

“It’s snowing, man!” shouted Farnol.

“You’re worse than a pair of kids”, said Bardin, going up the verandah steps.

“Got another spanking session, Bardin?” Farnol called out, cheekily.

Bardin paused to gare at him, and Farnol adopted a suitably sheepish look.

“We’ve got the fire going, Bardy!” Bengo announced, when Bardin went into the main ground floor room of the cottage.

Adam, Joby and Bengo were standing around a small fire in the grate. A pile of driftwood, gleaned from the beach, was drying out in the corner.

“It’s a bit smokey”, said Joby “But it should hep to air this place, make it less damp”.

“Good”, said Bardin, taking off his outdoor garments “Have you seen those two clots dancing in the sleet out there?”

“Oh I think it’s rather sweet”, said Adam “After everything that’s happened these past few years, they still get excited about a bit of snow”.

“Well it helps if you’re brain-dead I suppose”.

“Oh now Bardin! Can’t you take it as a sign of your fabulous leadership? That, after everything that’s happened, they still get excited about snow flurries?”

“Are you being sarcastic?” asked Bardin.

“No, not entirely”, said Adam “In many ways I’m being very accurate”.

“It’s so chilly up here, I should’ve brought my hat upstairs”, said Bardin, about an hour later, lying in the big double bed in the room above the cottage’s kitchen-cum-living-area.

“What, nothing else, just your hat?” said Bengo, who was lying next to him.

They had the bedclothes practically pulled up around their ears. They hadn’t been able to air the room since they had first arrived, due to the cold weather, and so the air smelled stale and damp. This hadn’t bothered them though. They had been too busy enjoying themselves for that.

“I wonder why whoever-lived-here didn’t put a window in that wall”, said Bardin.

The bedroom only had one lattice window, overlooking the courtyard garden at the back. It would have been perfectly natural to have also put another window in the opposite wall, overlooking the beach, but there was none, merely a blank wall.

“Perhaps they felt they had enough of the sea downstairs”, said Bengo “And wanted a break from it up here”.

“Could be”, said Bardin “I suppose it doesn’t mean anything. In this world it’s very easy to start seeing dark significance in every little thing”.

“Too true”, said Bengo “And it does make it easier having only one window. I suspect with two it would get very draughty at times, create a sort of a wind-tunnel effect”.

“You know, you can almost sound intelligent sometimes”.

“Thanks Bardin”.

“No I mean it”.

“Yes I know you do, particularly the ‘almost’ part!”

They both laughed and pulled the bedclothes more firmly around themselves. More voices gathered in the room below, as Julian and Ransey had turned up.

“Hey you two!” Julian shouted up the twisting, narrow staircase “We’ll be going back over to the ship soon. Are you joining us or staying here?”

“No bloody fear!” Bardin shouted back “It’s too damn cold!”

He sat up awkwardly and perched on the edge of the bed.

“Actually”, he said “No one should ever stay here overnight. Daytime it’s perfect, suits us fine, but not at night, ok?”

“Yes alright Bardy, I get it”, said Bengo “None of us wants to stay here overnight anyway, ok?”

“Sorry”, Bardin smiled “I get carried away”. “You do seem to think you’re addressing a meeting in the dining-room sometimes”, said Bengo “And it’s only me you’re talking to. Mind you, you’ve always been a bit like that. Reminds me of all those ‘Now Bengo’ lectures you used to give me before we went on stage. Usually pointing out the bleedin’ obvious”.

“Well I like the sound of my own voice, who knew!” said Bardin.

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