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By Sarah Hapgood

“Hey up”, said Joby, when Kieran joined him at the truck “I hope you’ve been behaving yourself today”.

He kissed Kieran on the lips.

“Joby, I’ve seen a demon in the woods”, said Kieran “One of those wood demons I think, peering out from behind a tree”.

“I hope you didn’t approach it”, said Joby.

“Of course I didn’t”, said Kieran “What kind of an eejit do you take me for? I don’t think it can appear in direct sunlight. It was probably that one, or something like it, that pushed me into the muddy ditch that time”.

“Have you told Bardin about it?” asked Joby.

“No, he was having a tender moment with Bengo”, said Kieran “So I didn’t like to intrude”.

“Well they’ve finished now”, said Joby.

In spite of the news about the Wood Demon, it turned out to be a very pleasant evening. They had lit lanterns when it went dark, and then dotted them at strategic intervals around the deck. The conversation was civilised and witty (although perhaps it didn’t quite rise to the heights of “sophisticated”, as Adam often hoped). Everyone retired to bed, well-sated with food and drink, and enjoyable talk.

To Bardin’s utter dismay he was then inflicted with a nightmare. The dream consisted of him being locked in an airless dark place. He had the sensation that he was underground, although he couldn’t see anything to be sure. In the distance he heard two voices, both low and growly. “Will he be found here?” asked one. “No”, replied the other “No one will ever come in here again”.

Bardin woke up struggling for breath and gasping to scream.

When daybreak came he ordered Bengo not to tell anyone. An order Bengo completely ignored, because he immediately went and told Adam, who came into their cabin straightaway.

“You must go and talk to Patsy about this”, he said.

“It was only a dream”, said Bardin “Anyway, I have things to do today. I’ve got to sort the clowns out about the old stove. I can’t be moping around with bad dreams”.

“Bardin!” Bengo shouted in frustration.

“Now you listen to me”, said Adam, sternly to Bardin “If you don’t go and discuss this with Patsy IMMEDIATELY, I shall give you such a spanking that you’ll be eating your dinner standing up for a month, and that I promise you!”

Bardin sheepishly left the room.

“Really”, Adam exclaimed, in exasperation “I thought we’d cured our boy of such nonsense. I don’t think we’ll ever tame him”.

“It’s an ongoing thing”, said Bengo, squeezing Adam’s arm sympathetically.

“I didn’t want to cause everybody worry, that’s all”, said Bardin, now sitting on the sofa in Kieran’s cabin “I thought everybody would put too much significance on it”.

“It is significant, that’s why”, said Kieran “Bardin, you’ve got to stop this having-to-be-stoical-about-everything attitude. That dream caused you grave distress. I can see that even now”.

“And yet it doesn’t sound much in telling”, said Bardin.

“They never do”, said Kieran “Did you have any inkling at all where you were?”

“No, it was all dark”, said Bardin “I was locked in something, a tin box or a sort of metal coffin. I just got the sensation I was in an underground room. Could it have been the basement of Crowley’s house?”

“More likely I think it was the awful house up the lane here”, said Kieran.

“The one like the Turd House?” said Bardin.

“The dream was manipulated to prey on your very worst fears”, said Kieran.

“Being locked in a dark place?” said Bardin “But I’ve never been claustrophobic”.

“Being abandoned and forgotten in a dark place”, said Kieran “You had a taste of that when Bengo left you that time, all those years ago”.

Bardin burst into tears, and was immediate smitten with embarrassment.

“Oh don’t tell the others about all this, please”, he said “It’s all too stupid. Bengo will blame himself all over again and …”

“Ssh now”, said Kieran, gently “This is why it was very important that you told me about this. Adam was right to get angry with you. You have got to move on from this obsession about not causing the rest of us worry, Bardin. You’re a leader, you’ve always been a leader, but we love you”.

“W-what happens now?” said Bardin.

“We carry on with things as normal”, said Kieran “And I’ll give you a private blessing after dinner tonight. If you get another dream tonight, I might suggest sleeping in your cabin with you for a wee while”.

Bardin took the other clowns over to the old kitchen after breakfast, and set them to work on scrubbing the rust off the stove.

“But how are we gonna get it working again, Bard?” said Hal.

“We don’t have to, technically”, said Bardin “We’ll get someone from town in to clean the chimney, and then when Winter comes we just drop a couple of logs in the metal cage here and get it burning, that’s all. It’s for heat and light only, the others don’t want to cook on it”.

Adam had promised to take a basket of food over to them at lunchtime, and he did.

“My word!” he said “You have done well. It’s coming up nicely”.

“Just a case of scrubbing the rust off and sanding it down really”, said Hal “Yeah, it should look alright in here when we’re done, get it all lit in the Winter”.

“We just need a new back door fitted”, said Mutton Broth.

“Well I can’t imagine that will be much of a problem”, said Adam “Yes, this could be quite cosy”.

“Will you be walloping old Bardin in here when the fire’s lit?” said Hal.

“Of course”, said Adam “Come Winter-time that is going to be awfully good for morale”.

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