Go back to previous chapter
Many would not regard it as the perfect stopping-place, but that didn’t the Indigo-ites from residing there for a few weeks. Not only was it remote and isolated, but the surrounding flat countryside stretching away all round them for miles and miles offered nowhere for any unwelcome visitors to hide. There were no demon-infested forests for instance. The first place there could possibly be anywhere like that were the mountains on the far horizon.
In Winter this area would be a snowy expanse of tundra, like a moonscape. In Summer it was a dustbowl. They could see for miles around, uninterrupted.
Surprisingly, Hillyard left it some while before he took the truck ashore.
“I thought he’d be hassling us about it day-in day-out”, said Joby.
“There’s been plenty around here to keep him occupied I guess”, said Adam, when the big day finally came, and the truck was taken ashore. The usual six assembled by it. An unseemly squabble ensued as to who was going to sit in the front and who in the back.
“Does it matter?” said Joby “The seats are bloody uncomfortable back AND front!”
“Yes, but at least in the front I’ve got more chance of staying in me seat!” said Kieran.
“You won’t wanna stay in it by the time I’ve finished with you if you don’t pipe down!” said Joby.
He swatted Kieran on the behind and then lifted him onto the back of the truck.
“Ridiculous”, said Bardin “He just wants my place. Well I’m Captain …”
“Bardin!” Ransey thundered “Be quiet, and get in!”
“Better do as Ransey says, Bardy”, said Bengo, in a whisper.
“Right you two”, said Hillyard, shouting at Kieran and Joby as he walked to the front of the truck “Shout loudly if you fall out won’t you!”
“If I fall out you’ll never hear the end of it, Hillyard”, said Joby.
Bengo and Bardin were shovelled onto the front seats, wedged between Hillyard, who was driving, and Ransey riding shotgun by the passenger door.
“Jayz, this must be the most uncomfortable road in the world”, said Kieran, clinging onto the side of the truck.
“Hey, I thought I was supposed to be the moany one, not you!” said Joby.
He grabbed the waist of Kieran’s trousers and pulled him towards him.
“Come and sit on my lap”, Joby ordered.
“I bet I don’t stay on it for long”, said Kieran.
“You will if I hold you tight”, said Joby, wrapping his arms round him “Either that or we’ll both fall on the floor”.
He nuzzled Kieran’s ear.
“Now I’m liking this part”, said Kieran “We should do it more often”.
“Good”, said Joby “I was starting to wonder if you were getting bad vibes or summat”.
“Perhaps I am a wee bit”, said Kieran “I don’t want to be a wuss, but I hope Hillyard’s not planning on driving too far”.
“Relax”, said Joby “My strange, enigmatic creature”.
“Well after all these years I still wonder if you’re human”.
“What else am I likely to be?” said Kieran “A reptilian overlord?!”
“Nah, an angel”, said Joby “But not THAT angel!”
“I’m glad you said that”, said Kieran “I was starting to worry”.
“As I said, relax”, said Joby, holding him tighter “I doubt Bardin is sitting on anyone’s lap on the front seat”.
“I hope not, I hope he’s getting bounced about as well”, said Kieran “That’s how much of an angel I am!”
Bardin was engrossed in his compass, which was resting on the palm of his hand.
“Why do you need that, Bardy?” said Bengo “We all know we’re going in a southerly direction”.
“Ssh”, said Bardin, giving an imperious wave of his hand.
“This old truck”, said Hillyard, slapping the big steering-wheel fondly “It could go anywhere, do anything. Whatever this dirt track throws at us it can cope with”.
“I hope so”, said Ransey “Or we’ll be walking back”.
“Hey Bengo, would you like to have a go at the wheel on the way back?” said Hillyard.
“What?” Bardin snapped.
“Ooh yes”, said Bengo.
“Bengo can’t drive”, said Bardin.
“I can’t drive”, Bengo parroted.
“I’ll turn it round”, said Hillyard “And then all he has to do is keep going back in a straight direction”.
“Ooh yes, I’d like to do that, Bardy”, said Bengo.
“You don’t have to ask his permission!” said Hillyard, jerking his thumb at Bardin “I thought we was supposed to be keeping him in his place these days”.
“Don’t come running to me when he gets a bloody great rock caught in the axle, or whatever you call it”, said Bardin.
“As I keep telling you”, said Hillyard “This old truck …”
“Can cope with anything”, said Bardin “Yes, so you’ve said”.
After a few miles the path stopped at a headland overlooking a large lake. In the middle of the lake was a partially-wooded hump-shaped island. Its back reared up sufficiently high to completely obscure the south-facing side of the island from their view.
“I wonder if we could get the galleon round here”, said Hillyard, after they had climbed out of the truck to have a look.
“I’ll study the maps when we get home”, said Bardin, who had been peering through a small hand-held telescope “All these rivers and lakes seem to connect, like a great big grid, so there must be some way round here”.
“Do we really need to rush round to it?” said Bengo, unexpectedly.
“What are you talking about?” said Bardin.
“I don’t know”, said Bengo.
“Come on”, said Hillyard “I’ll turn the truck round, and then you can drive us back, Bengo”.
They were still at the barn clearing the next day, but plans were being made to move the galleon very soon. Bardin had been studying the maps at his disposal, and had worked out a fairly clear-cut route to take in order to reach the island. The island wasn’t named on the map, merely shown as a rocky, but partially wooded outcrop.
The bright, clear afternoon Bengo wandered along to Julian’s cabin, where he found Hoowie, wearing only his pants and a t-shirt, doing some dusting.
“Why don’t you get Toppy to do that?” said Bengo “He does ours, he loves it”.
“Yeah I know”, said Hoowie “But Julian likes me to dust his toys”.
On a small camping-table were laid out Julian’s formidable collection of disciplinary devices.
“This evil-looking thing”, Bengo laughed, picking up a studded leather paddle.
“Yeah, thank God I don’t get that too often”, said Hoowie “He tends to only use that when I’ve been really, really naughty. Actually he doesn’t use many of those on me. I tend to just get smacked with his hand more often than not”.
“No, I think he saves the evil stuff for Bardy”, said Bengo.
“Well he deserves it!” said Hoowie.
They both laughed like conspiratorial schoolchildren, and went to sit on the windowseat. Suddenly the ship’s engines started up.
“Oh no, we’re off”, said Bengo “I had a feeling it was gonna be today”.
“Hey cheer up”, said Hoowie “It’s gonna be a blast. Can you imagine if that island’s empty? We could take it for ourselves, have our very own island in a lake”.
“And if it’s not empty?” said Bengo, grimly.
“Aw c’mon Benje”, said Hoowie “I think you’ve been working with Joby for too long, you’re getting all pessimistic like”.
“He’s being quite positive at the moment”, said Bengo “Adam says it’s downright unnerving”.
Julian stomped into the room in his riding-boots. He had been helping to return the horses to the ship after their grazing near the barns. Bengo and Hoowie jumped instinctively to their feet when he entered the room. A reaction the younger members of the crew had never really abandoned. Julian threw himself down in his chair.
“Hoowie, boots!” he said, extending a leg.
“Old Benje needs a boot up the rear at the moment”, said Hoowie, straddling Julian’s leg.
“Yeah thanks, Hoowie!” said Bengo.
“Well you do!” said Hoowie.
“What’s up, little fellow?” said Julian “Everything will be alright, I can assure you. We might even find our own island at last”.
“That’s what I keep telling him”, said Hoowie.
“I keep thinking of Pabbio’s island”, said Bengo, miserably.
“My dear boy”, said Julian “Not every island we meet is necessarily demon-infested, and if it is, we’ll scourge it. Kieran will thoroughly enjoy doing that”.
By the time dusk was falling that day, they had neared the lake on which the island was situated. Bardin decided that they should approach the island in daylight, as they had no idea what was there, if anything. In the meantime, they anchored out of sight of it, on the river that flowed into the lake.
Bengo had spent the previous few hours feeling quite melancholy in the galley. Even Joby had told him to buck up.
“Well it’s really telling you something when HE thinks you’re being a drag!” said Bardin, standing up on deck with his partner after dinner.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t help it”, said Bengo, wretchedly.
“The show must go on, Bengo”, said Bardin “I wish you were wearing a red nose, I’d tweak it and make a hooter noise”.
Adam came up on deck.
“I hope you haven’t been encouraging him in this defeatist nonsense?” said Bardin.
“Why on earth would I be doing that?” said Adam “If I wasn’t feeling so tired Bardin, I’d have you over my knee. Still, there’s always when we arrive at the island”.
“If Bengo is to be believed”, said Bardin “All hell will break loose when we arrive at the island”.
“And if it does”, said Bengo “I hope you will all listen to me in the future”.
“Perish the thought”, said Bardin.
“And if all hell doesn’t break out”, said Adam “Which I suspect is more likely, we will have to christen our arrival there in a suitable way”.
“Oh I wonder what that could be!” said Bardin.
“Anyway”, said Adam “Come below deck now, Ransey wants to bolt the hatches for the night”.
Go forward to next chapter
Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site