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Very early the next morning, at daybreak in fact, Hillyard was riding a bicycle along the drive at the front of the house. He had Joby propped in the big butcher's basket at the front, who looked surprisingly relaxed for being stuck in such an uncomfortable and ungainly position.
"Uh-oh!" said Hillyard "Look who's at the front door!"
Codlik was standing at the main doors, watching them.
"I came home last night", he said, primly, as they got near.
"You never!" said Joby, getting awkwardly out of the basket.
"Codlik", said Hillyard "I have just one thing to say to you before you go any further. This is my house!"
And he wheeled the bicycle past Codlik and into the Great Hall.
"There is no need for such rudeness!" Codlik spluttered.
"Well don't talk to him as though you're his Dad then!" said Joby.
"I was only going to say I had come home to find that none of the supper things had been cleared away", said Codlik, indicating with a sweep of his arm all the clutter of unwashed glasses and cups on the hall table.
"Oh for fuck's sake, it's not the end of the world!" said Joby.
He pushed past Codlik and on up the stairs, past the bicycle which Hilllyard had left propped against the marble pillar at the foot of the steps. As he reached the top of the stairs, Kieran and Tamaz came in through the main doors. They were both still naked, their bare feet cold and wet from the dew-soaked grass.
"Been Moon-bathing have you?" said Codlik, tartly "Communing with nature?!"
"That's right", said Kieran, brightly.
"It all sounds rather pagan to me", Codlik snapped "I'm surprised you would approve of such a thing!"
"Of course I approve!" said Kieran "I'm not a focking Proddy, keeping his hands crossed in front of his dick all the time, even when he's fully-dressed!"
"Like me I suppose?" said Codlik.
"If the cap fits!" said Kieran, so fiercely that his voice echoed around the Great Hall.
They went up to bed and slept soundly, in spite of the heated exchange of words. Kieran woke up at around 2:00 in the afternoon, and had his early morning cup of tea. Tamaz, Lonts and Joby were also in the dormitory with him.
"Levka keeps dropping hints apparently that he wants to see me", said Kieran, perched on the edge of his bed "I can't say I'm brimming over with enthusiasm at the idea".
"I'm not surprised, if he's still as mad as he ever was", said Joby.
"You remember that daft old bat in Triga, Eugenia?" said Kieran "The great believer in predestination and reincarnation".
"Yeah, I remember", Joby groaned "Said that I'm blind in one eye 'cos I must have gouged out someone else's eye in a previous existence!"
"That's it", said Kieran "Apparently this seems to be the latest trendy craze, because Levka believes it too. He's been going round upsetting the staff here with it. Told wee Sherilyn that she lost 3 fingers because she must have chopped off someone else's hand in a previous life! If I see him, I doubt I'll be able to keep me cool".
"I don't really understand any of all that predestination stuff", said Lonts "And I have tried".
"Don't worry about it Lonts, it's all a load of cobblers", said Kieran "And potentially evil and bigoted cobblers at that".
"Does it mean that I mangled someone else's brain in a previous life?" said Lonts.
"What are you on about?" Joby sighed.
"Well my brain's not normal is it?" said Lonts.
"You can say that again!" said Joby.
"So I must have mangled someone's brain", said Lonts.
"How?" said Joby "Did someone leave it lying in a field one day and you ran over it with a combine harvester or summat?!"
"Now you're just being silly, Joby", said Lonts.
"Not half as silly as you!" said Joby "Tamaz, if you pout much more your lips'll get stuck to the wall opposite!"
"When am I going to get my things back?" Tamaz demanded.
"I'll get them for you", said Lonts, eagerly "Where did you hide them, Joby?"
"One of the windowseats in the corridor just outside here", said Joby "The one that opens up like a linen chest".
"O.K, I'll get Tamaz's things", said Lonts, heading to the door.
He had just got the sack out of the windowseat when Mieps approached out of the gloom, barely distinguishable at first because he was dressed in such dark colours.
"Tamaz told me you like to creep up on people", Lonts giggled.
Mieps looked a bit mifed at having his ruthless, predatory stalking dismissed as some harmless game played by a halfwit to amuse himself!
"I haven't had much of a chance to thank you", he said.
"What for?" said Lonts "Oh I suppose you mean for saving Tamaz from the Scissor Woman! I don't like to think about it much. If I'd been only so much as a minute later Tamaz would have been killed".
"Do you still hate me for that?" said Mieps "It was because of me she came after Tamaz".
"Adam's spoken to me about it", said Lonts "He says I have to put it behind me and move onto a new level of understanding about you, otherwise I'll just be unhappy".
"We both want the same thing", said Mieps "To love Tamaz".
"Yes", said Lonts, solemnly "I know. I understand".
The door opened at the far end of the corridor and Joby yelled out "Haven't you found it yet?" as though they were playing a bad-tempered game of Hunt The Slipper.
"I'm just coming", said Lonts "I was talking to Mieps".
"God knows why!" said Joby, shutting the door again.
The afternoon that followed was very dramatic, with pent-up tensions and human emotions spilling out so much, that Julian said afterwards that he felt as though he was living in a dire t.v soap opera. For Joby, this certainly hadn't intended to be the case. He had gone into the kitchen-garden for a sulk, after having been lectured by Lonts about how it was necessary to now forgive Mieps. He had gone on about it so much Joby had felt seriously tempted to push him out of the window!
He now sat on the swing in the kitchen-garden, so deep in thought that he had inadvertently started muttering to himself, which came as a source of amusemtn to the staff in the kitchen. He was interrupted by Hillyard clanging through the metal gate, looking like a hunted man being followed by the secret police.
"I thought you were going to the stables this afternoon", said Joby.
"I did, but Glynis was there", said Hillyard "She'd been having a glass of cider with the lads in there. You've got to help me. I think she wants to talk to me!"
"Seems to me there's too much talking going on in this place", said Joby, darkly.
Glynis appeared at the gate, looking as though she'd consumed considerably more than one glass of cider. Her abundant yellow hair was spilling out of its chignon, and she was tapping her riding-crop against her leg in a menacing fashion.
"There she is!" Hillyard cried, as though Joby couldn't have worked this out for himself "Oh shit! Don't leave me alone with her, whatever you do!"
"I'm not hanging around if she's rat-arsed", said Joby "She starts beating men up when she's rat-arsed!"
"You have to stay", Hillyard clung to Joby's shirt, as Glynis came over to them.
"When are you going to go and see your son?" she shouted.
"Why don't you shout it a bit louder?" said Joby, in exasperation "I don't think Codlik quite heard!"
"I have seen him anyway", said Hillyard "I saw him the day we arrived".
"On your own I meant", said Glynis "Not surrounded by everyone else!"
"This is a private conversation", said Joby "Or at least it should be anyway! I'm off".
"You stay here", said Hillyard, keeping a firm grip on him "It's your fault she's so mixed-up".
"Mine?!" said Joby, dumbfounded "Well of course it can't be yours can it!"
"I don't blame Joby for anything", said Glynis "He doesn't know how to relate to women. He was only 20 when he crossed over, and mentally he is still that age, when it comes to women".
"More like 12 I would've said", Joby grunted.
"Although I have never understood the attraction he feels for that peculiar-looking freak!" said Glynis "But I have accepted it, and I admire him for the way he stands by his responsibilities".
"Do you?" said Joby, in amazement.
"Which is more than can be said for Hillyard!" Glynis snapped.
"Hillyard's a pillock, I've told you that all along!" said Joby "We could just turn him into a sperm-bank and no one'd notice any difference!"
Glynis swayed and caught hold of the frame of the swing.
"Watch out, all hands on deck!" said Hillyard, grabbing her "We'd better get her up to her room".
"You can get her up to her room", said Joby "I'm not going anywhere near it. If Codlik hears I've been in there, it'll be the end of civilisation as we know it!"
Hillyard got Glynis up to her room, via a flight of turret stairs. The sort of narrow, twisting efforts that look so atmospheric, but are arduous to climb, particularly if you are grappling with a voluptuous, drunken woman. At the top he pulled off her boots, and manoeuvred her over to the bed.
"Oh dear", she sobbed "I expect everyone knows now don't they?"
"Put it this way, I'd be bloody amazed if they didn't!" said Hillyard, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
"What are we going to do?" said Glynis.
"Wait and see what Codlik has to say I suppose", said Hillyard.
"Why oh why can I never make men love me?" Glynis wailed.
"He does!" said Hillyard "I'm pretty certain of that. He just gets a bit bossy at times and fusses too much, but that's only because people let him. Sometimes I almost feel sorry for him. The way no one ever wants to listen to him. You're his wife, Glynis. It's up to you to lick him into shape, and if you did it'd make life a lot easier for the rest of us!"
Codlik came in soon after, and from the melancholic look on his face Glynis could tell that he knew the truth about the whole situation, and had in fact known for quite some time.
"I'm sorry", said Glynis, after Hillyard had made his excuses and left "I haven't given you an easy first year have I?"
"But it is only our first isn't it?" said Codlik, sitting in the spot Hillyard had vacated "Not our last?"
He sounded like a small boy who thought no one loved him.
"I don't know much about relationships", he said "No man who was born into this time and grew up in the camps can really. It is much harder for us to learn. You don't know what being deprived of a mother's love can mean. All I know is I want you to be happy, for your own sake, and for Leon's".
"Oh God", Glynis threw her arms round him "I never knew what real life was until now. We WILL be happy. WE WILL!"
"Getting through to you at last is it?" Julian yelled "Hillyard-Nothing-But-A-Big-Dick! Has it quite accurred to you just how much trouble you've caused?"
Julian was knocking him around their sitting-room at the back of the house, slapping his face and his ears. Hillyard could easily have fended him off, but instead he tried to absorb the slaps, not even attempting to push him away.
"Julian!" Adam shouted, running across the room "There is absolutely no need for this at all!"
"You stay out of it!" Julian barked.
"I will not!" said Adam, pulling him away "Now sit down and have a cigar or something!"
Hillyard was pleasently surprised when Julian did as he was told.
"Hilly", said Adam, softly "I need to know where Patsy is".
"I think he went over to the chapel", said Hillyard, breathlessly, looking decidedly pink about the ears and cheeks "Levka wanted to talk to him somewhere private".
"O.K, I'll send Bengo over to fetch him", said Adam.
"Why, what's happened?" said Hillyard.
"Joby's packing his bags", said Adam "Said he's leaving and going back to Toondor Lanpin. This place is a mad-house apparently, and he can't stand anymore. I think he simply doesn't want to be here if Codlik decided to go on a jealous rampage. He's being absolutely impossible, and he won't listen to reason".
"Where's Freaky then?" said Julian.
"Gone out for a drive with Lo-Lo, Mieps and Toppy", said Adam "I will not have Joby heading home at this time of the day. No one is being in the slightest bit rational around here!"
That mysterious bush telegraph, which works so amazingly well in small communities, was operating on overdrive this afternoon. Julian stood at the top of the outdoor steps outside their living-room and watched as most of the other Indigo-ites swarmed towards him in bits at at time. Lonts, Tamaz and Toppy were in very high spirits and ran up the steps, falling onto him playfully. Mieps followed at a more sedate pace. Soon after, Kieran appeared in view, with Bengo following him at a discreet distance, like a windswept slave. In an amazingly short space of time, all the Indigo-ites had gathered in the room, apart from Joby.
"Well you've really opened a can of worms haven't you?" said Ransey to Hillyard "For years now we've been saying you should be doctored, and it's true!"
"It takes two you know!" said Hillyard "I didn't exactly creep into her room and have her whilst she was asleep!"
Joby came in and dumped his bags in the doorway.
"Well, nothing like making a dramatic gesture!" said Adam.
"I'm leaving", said Joby "I'm sick of getting caught up in arguments that have got nothing to do with me, scenes that have got nothing to do with me, I'm off".
"I notice you didn't ask us first", Tamaz spat.
"I assumed you were coming too", said Joby.
"Oh you did did you?!" said Tamaz "Kieran, speak to him!"
"Yes Kieran", said Julian "This is no time for one of your eerie silent moods".
Kieran still didn't say anything, but he picked up Joby's bags and threw them over the small balcony at the top of the steps.
"Hey!" said Joby, dashing out after him "What d'ya think you're doing? You can't go hurling my things about!"
"The state some of your clothes are in, I doubt it'll make much difference!" said Kieran "Don't give me any hassle, Joby. Not after an afternoon with Levka, I'm not in the mood!"
They were alerted back into the room by a knock on the door, and Lilli and Drusica creeping stealthily in, like a couple of female vampires.
"Oh what now?" Joby groaned "Don't tell us you're gone on strike, that's all we need!"
"Mr Codlik's invited you all for dinner in the Great Hall", said Lilli, giggling nervously.
"You've got it wrong", said Drusica, sternly "He said he'd like to hold a special supper down there, if that's alright with Mr Hillyard".
"What does he mean by a special supper?" said Julian, testily.
"Hillyard roasting over an open fire with any luck!" said Ransey.
"He just said he was sure you'd all enjoy it", said Drusica.
"I like the sound of it even less!" said Julian.
"It's a peace-offering, Jules", Adam sighed "Yes, we'll be down very soon".
"We had to make sure Mr Hillyard approved", said Drusica "He said that was very important".
"Tell him it matters not one iota to us whether Mr Hillyard approves or not!" said Ransey.
"Seconded", said Julian.
"We'll be down", said Hillyard.
The great man having spoken, the girls relaxed and went away to give Codlik the glad tidings.
Kieran and Joby went down the outside steps to retrieve the bags.
"I suppose you might have got round to telling me you were leaving at some point?" said Kieran, irritably.
"Oh don't go on", said Joby, picking up his rucksack "I've had a right day I have! I thought Glynis was gonna come at me with her riding-crop at one point!
"It sounds a lot more exciting than my afternoon's been!" Kieran snapped "Levka's determined to impress me with how well he knows the Bible. He's been quoting chapter and verse at me everytime I try to open me mouth".
"As though that means anything!" said Joby "It's about as pointless as being able to name everyone in the 1939 Arsenal football team!"
"I think it might be a wee bit more important than that", Kieran laughed.
"Depends if you're an Arsenal supporter I spose", said Joby.
"I've suggested he goes and does a spot of missionary work in the Village of Stairs", said Kieran "Help out in the soup kitchens there and do a bit of preaching on the side".
"What have you got against the Village of Stairs all of a sudden?!" said Joby.
"He's got too much energy, and far too much idealism", said Kieran "He needs to go and work some of it off, and have the corners rubbed off him at the same time. It worries me, leaving him here. He's not cut out to be a rural priest, he hasn't got enough tranquillity of spirit for that, the needs to be out in the rough and tumble doing active work. I think it might do him good".
"Or make him worse", said Joby "I always think these evangelicals are bad news when you put 'em amongst the weak and impressionable. They start gathering up followers like the pied piper. If he starts growing a beard and wearing glasses, and telling everyone to call him David the Lamb of God, we know we've got trouble!"
"Oh don't say that!" Kieran gave a cry of anguish "I had to do something with him!"
"Stop panicking, it was just a joke!" said Joby "Even if there was to be another Waco or Jonestown, it'll hardly be your fault! There have always been nutters in the world, and there's always been other nutters ready to listen to 'em! And if you hadn't legalised religion, we'd have to worry about 'em even more, as they'd all be hidden out of sight where no one could keep an eye on 'em".
"Perhaps ..." Kieran began, cautiously "We could go down there sometime and see how he's getting on".
"Why? I couldn't give two hoots how he was getting on!" said Joby "He drains me, he does. Drains me!"
"Now Joby, don't be awkward", said Kieran "I think you'd be good for him".
"What are you trying to do, get us hitched?!" Joby exclaimed.
"I mean, that he needs to mix with people like you more", said Kieran "I just seem to make him worse".
"Yeah, you have that effect on me too sometimes!" said Joby "Anyway, I don't wanna go to a soup kitchen, I'd be no good at all that kind of thing".
"I think you'd be perfect", Kieran enthused.
"Bog off, Kieran!" Joby yelled.
Codlik and Glynis had laid on a very relaxing supper-party in the Great Hall. The rugs had reappeared, and Glynis had put braziers of burning incense at strategic points around the cavernous room to create a relaxing atmosphere. They all ate Arab-style, sitting on rugs and cushions, and baby Leon practised crawling on the black fur rug that Glynis sat on.
"Not a very nice atmosphere in this part of the room", said Hillyard, who was sitting with Kieran and Joby by the foot of the stairs.
"Go and sit somewhere else then", said Joby, who was still miffed with Kieran.
"Have a plum", said Hillyard, offering him the bowl.
"I'll have one too", said Kieran, reaching across Joby "I've got a favour to ask you later, Hillyard. I'm going to exorcise that room above the kitchen after everyone else has gone to bed. Glynis is finding the crying baby very disturbing. The doorway's papered over, and I need someone with a bit of brawn to help me break it down".
"Sure", said Hillyard.
"You've certainly got plenty of brawn I suppose", said Joby, caustically "I could use your stomach as a bouncy castle! Mind you, it's better than being a bag of old bones, sweet 'n sour spare ribs!"
"Size doesn't matter", said Kieran.
"Yeah well you would say that wouldn't you!" said Joby.
"It shouldn't take us long to do", said Kieran, speaking over Joby "I'm not planning on burning any creosote, it'll just be a very simple exorcism. Me and Joby'll meet you up there at midnight".
"Hey, what's this 'me and Joby'?" said Joby "When did you consult with me on this?"
"And when did you consult me about going back to Toondor Lanpin?" Kieran retaliated.
"Oh you certainly don't forget a slight do you!" said Joby "You'd store 'em up for years if you had to! Every slight, every grievance gets brooded on and dragged out decades later. You're certainly Irish and no mistake!"
"And now I know you're drunk", said Kieran "When you start trotting out the jigoistic remarks. Meanwhile I'll just sit in me hovel and cook potatoes on me peat fire, shall I? Perhaps polishing me machine-gun whilst I'm at it and seeing to me homemade bomb factory! And later on, you can come in with your bovver-boots on and kick the stuffing out of me!"
"Well that shouldn't take long should it!" said Joby.
"Do you want me to bring something heavy with me?" said Hillyard "To break this door down, I mean".
"Sounds a good idea", said Joby "We'll see you up there".
Fortunately for Kieran's plans, the supper-party broke up at 10:30. It was judged a great success, and Julian even drunkenly apologised to Codlik for any bad thoughts he had ever had about him. "I'm sorry I ever thought you were the Sheriff of Nottingham", he said, which succeeded in sending Codlik to bed in a state of total bewilderment.
Tamaz was drowsy from too much wine, and was content to lie propped against Mieps on his bed in a lethargic stupour. He was too drowsy to even question where Kieran and Joby were going at such a late hour.
The arrival of the three exorcists in the upstairs portion of the Service Wing was a matter of great interest to the maids, who all got out of bed to see what they were about.
"We're bashing down the door of the locked room to perform an exorcism", said Kieran.
"About time too", said one of the older maids "I don't think I could take too much more of that baby crying. It was like nothing on Earth!"
"It was nothing on Earth", said Joby.
The exorcism was a very routine affair. The room contained nothing but a bedstead, a rolled-up mattress and an empty fireplace, but Kieran sensed enough to realise that the focus of the haunting came from the fireplace and he concentrated on that.
"I don't want this room re-sealing", he said, afterwards "It has to be used. Perhaps not as a bedroom, but as a store-room or a laundry-room. I want people in and out of it. Working in it, having romantic assignations in it, whatever, but I want it used. It's been sealed off for far too long".
He took Hillyard and Joby down to the kitchen afterwards, and made them a pot of cocoa.
"What it was", said Kieran "Was that a scullery-maid in the last century, before Woll's time, got pregnant by a local boy. The family who ran this place then were very strict. But to be fair they had to be. The vampires were still at large, and they had to protect everyone on the estate. If the news had got out to the outside world that there were women here, women breeding, no one would have been safe from Caln and his unsavoury crew. The pregnant maid was terrified of anyone discovering her secret, so she concealed her pregnancy. And she managed to conceal it throughout the whole 9 months. When her time came she gave birth in that room above us here, all by herself. When the baby was born, she was terrified it would be found, so she threw it on the fire in her room. That was the screaming that Glynis and the maids kept hearing. The baby of course died".
"What happened to the girl?" said Joby.
"Bertha tells me she hanged herself soon afterwards", said Kieran "But I'm not sure I believe it. It sounds to me like it was a case of did she jump or was she pushed? She was disturbed by everything that had happened, mentally disturbed. To everyone here she would have been too dangerous to keep around. They couldn't risk public exposure, of the rest of the world finding out they were here. It gives us some idea of what a heroic thing Woll did by taking them all under his wing the way he did. He never exposed them, and he kept them hidden from the vampires. Bertha said they owed him a vast debt. The real heroes often die unsung".
"Will everyone stop hearing the baby now?" said Hillyard.
"Yes I think so", said Kieran "Or at least I hope so".
"Which amounts to the same thing", said Joby.
"I hope it wasn't an omen of some sort", said Hillyard "Glynis hearing the baby crying I mean".
"The banshee is just an old wives' tale", Kieran smiled.
"Banshee?" said Hillyard.
"Where I come from a lot of big houses would often have a banshee legend attached", said Kieran "Of a ghostly woman heard crying just before a death in the family. It was quite a popular old folk legend from all around the world, in all different forms. The Scots often used to have ghostly drummers or bagpipe-players".
"I think I preferred the banshee!" said Joby.
"Did you have anything like that where you came from?" said Hillyard.
"Nah", said Joby "Would've had a hard job hearing 'em above the police sirens!"
"Doesn't that just illustrate what I've long said?" said Kieran "The old legends die out when people start living closely packed together".
"Yeah, but instead we used to get urban myths", said Joby "You know, like phantom hitch-hikers or alligators in the sewers, that kind of thing".
"Which only shows the essential human need for the mysterious unseen part of life", said Kieran.
"All this must seem a bit tame to Hillyard", said Joby "He grew up in a world with real vampires and monsters".
"Lucky me", said Hillyard, glumly.
Kieran and Joby laughed sympathetically.
"I hope it's a wee bit better now", said Kieran, warmly.
"You of all people should know it is!" said Hillyard, giving him a singificant look.
Kieran looked as startled as though a 100 flashbulbs had exploded in his face. Joby had seen that look before, it was when Kieran fully realised his own significance. He was glad for his sake it didn't happen very often.
"Let's go on up", said Joby, to the two of them "You both look shattered".
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