Go back to previous chapter
Kieran said that it was most likely Pabbio would still be in his library. He said he had got the impression that he spent rather a lot of time in there. Then it was just simply a case of relocating the library. This took them a while. When they finally burst in on Pabbio, they found him sitting at the big desk, his head resting on the pristine white blotter in front of him.
“I want a word with you, you emaciated fop!” Bardin bellowed from the doorway “What have you done to me?”
“Bardin, we don’t know for certain that it is him who is responsible”, said Kieran.
“Don’t give me all that guff about negative entities”, said Bardin, now striding (as best he could) over to the desk “It is this one alright”.
“Don’t come near me!” Pabbio bleated, jumping to his feet “I had to do it, I had to take some of your energy. You were overwhelming me, frightening me”.
“It looks to me as if he still is!” said Hillyard.
“Don’t come any closer”, said Pabbio “I-I have a morbid fear of clowns”.
“What?” Bardin exclaimed “If that is so, why have you got lifesized wax models of them in this house?”
“I thought you’d like them”, said Pabbio, pathetically “Please don’t come any closer. Please. I really am scared”.
“But you’ve been alright with us so far”, said Bengo.
“I had to use all my energy to cope”, said Pabbio “For Kieran’s sake … and I-I didn’t want to drive you all away”.
By now Bardin had Pabbio backed up against one of the bookcases.
“For god’s sake calm down”, said Bardin “Do you think I’ve got soda syphons and flour bombs stuffed inside my shirt?!”
“This whole place feels more and more like a weird dream by the minute”, said Joby.
Kieran at this time was giving a good impression of a simmering volcano.
“What right have you got to violate another person’s body in the way you’ve just done, Pabbio?” he demanded to know “If you’ve really got a clowns’ phobia, why didn’t you just tell us instead of attacking Bardin the way you’ve done?”
“Because as I told you I didn’t want you to leave!” said Pabbio, who was now so upset he looked on the verge of tears “You have no right to accuse me, Kieran. We all make mistakes. You’ve done deals with the Devil in your time!”
“WHAT?!” Kieran roared, and he galloped round the desk. Pabbio was so terrified that he tried to run away and ran into a barricade of armchairs.
“You have done nothing, NOTHING!” Kieran shouted “Except hole yourself up in this freaky house!”
“What the blazes is going on here?” Julian roared from the main doorway. He was flanked by Ransey and Hoowie.
“Pabbio did a sort of psychic attack on Bardy”, said Bengo “Because he hates clowns”.
“I don’t hate them”, Pabbio whimpered “I’m afraid of them”.
“We’d better separate those two”, said Julian to Ransey, as though talking about separating a pair of scrapping dogs.
Ransey seized Kieran around the waist and Joby ran to grab his feet. Together they managed to carry Kieran out of the room as if he was a small, rolled-up hearth-rug. Hillyard followed them at a leisurely pace.
“Oh god, this is terrible”, said Pabbio, draping himself over the back of one of the armchairs “Now I’ve offended Kieran, that was the very last thing I wanted to do”.
“Never mind him, what about me?” said Bardin “I’m the one with sodding back trouble!”
“It will pass soon, Bardin”, said Pabbio.
“And when it does”, said Bardin “I want your solemn oath it will NEVER happen again!”
The others meanwhile were looking for a room to put Kieran in until he calmed down.
“This looks a bit of alright”, said Hillyard, unearthing an oak-panelled bedroom “Looks like this might be old Pabbio’s room. Does himself proud in here by the looks of things. How does he manage to have a roaring log fire? There are no trees on the island to make logs from!”
“Probably magics it up out of thin air”, said Joby “Like everything else around here”.
“Wish I had that kind of power”, said Hillyard “I’d arrange for Julian and Bardin to lose their voices for an hour every day and give the rest of us a bit of peace and quiet!”
“Hillyard, pour us all some of that magic brandy from the magic decanter”, said Ransey, adjusting his glasses and clothing after setting Kieran on his feet.
“He’s gone too far, he’s crossed the line”, said Kieran “If he wants us to stay here he’s going to have to pay out some hefty redemption”.
“Will you put a sock in it, Kieran!” said Joby “If you don’t calm down I’m gonna spank your bum really really hard!”
“That’s not going to calm him down is it!” said Hillyard, pouring out the brandy into a small collection of rather elegant crystal glasses “Here, come and get your snouts in this, and have a moment’s respite before the next wave of madness in the house of fun begins”.
“Hm, that’s a good way of putting it”, said Ransey.
Kieran crossed over to the drinks table, holding up his trousers, which had become undone in the tussle, with one hand.
“What great vanquishers of evil we’ve got!” said Joby “An emaciated fop, as Bardin called him, who’s scared stiff of clowns, and one who can’t keep his trousers on! No wonder the world’s always in a mess! Starting to make the Devil look organised by comparison!”
“Joby, don’t go mentioning Angel”, said Kieran “There’s been too much talk of him already this evening. It’s the sort of thing that makes him appear”.
“He’d never find us in this house”, said Joby.
“I know one way to keep him out”, said Hillyard, nodding over at the bed.
“Oh for fuck’s sake, Hillyard”, said Joby “Can’t you keep your brain out of your trousers for 5 minutes?”
“That bed’s big enough for 4”, said Hillyard “And I can’t think of a better way to keep Angel away. He can never cope with us having sex”.
“I’m not sure I can cope with us having sex sometimes!” said Joby.
Kieran went to put the cool glass against his forehead to calm himself down, and succeeded in accidentally dropping his trousers in the process.
“I’m definitely bolting the door now”, said Hillyard “Let’s go to it”. “Kieran, I really don’t think we should wander off any further”, said Ransey, following Kieran around the narrow walkway which they had accessed from Pabbio’s bedroom window “Where this house is concerned we’ll never know where we might end up”.
“No, in this house we could even slip into another dimension”, said Kieran.
“And as we’re both stark naked I don’t think that would be very practical”, said Ransey.
They both paused and leaned on the white railing, looking out over the night-time seascape.
“Look at all the different dark blues and silvers”, said Kieran “What an extraordinary sight it is”.
“It’s strange, I‘m not cold”, said Ransey, holding out his arm “Here we are, standing out here in the middle of the night with no clothes on, and yet it’s never particularly warm on this island”.
“Perhaps it’s all part of the magic”, said Kieran “I feel like I did the time we ate pot at the Winter Palace, back in the early days”.
“I hadn’t joined you then”, said Ransey.
“I know, and we could have done with you there”, Kieran smiled “Someone to impose a bit of order on us”.
“I’ve been trying to do that ever since! Usually without much success”.
“I’m sorry. I’ve given you a lot of worry over the years”.
“Well you wouldn’t be you if you didn’t”, said Ransey “But occasionally you make up for it, like this evening”.
“The sex, or when Joby brings me to heel?” said Kieran, in an enjoyably coquettish way.
Ransey was reminded of the very first time he had ever experienced a pleasurable sexual arousal, sitting next to Adam on the sunlit deck of Father Isaac’s yacht.
“Oh god”, Ransey pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.
“Ransey me dear man”, said Kieran “I didn’t mean to upset you. It’s just old Kieran being daft now”.
“I-I’m fine”, said Ransey, putting his glasses back on “Really I am. It’s just that I owe you so much. This amazing life I’ve had. When I think how it could have turned out”.
“You don’t owe me a thing”, said Kieran “I owe you if anything. You’ve put yourself in the front line for me so many times”.
“D-don’t … for god’s sake … tell Julian I got like this will you?” said Ransey “I’ll never hear the end of it. Old Four-Eyes getting tearful!”
“I won’t tell him”, said Kieran “I’ll tell him you watched me being chastised instead, that’ll make him insanely jealous”.
“I wish somebody would do it to him sometimes”, said Ransey, as they walked back to the window “I keep hoping Hoowie will be the worm that turns, and get revenge for all the hidings he gets at Julian’s hands”.
“I think he’s got Hoowie a wee bit too well-trained for that”.
They climbed back in through the window. Joby and Hillyard were still in bed. The log-fire had burnt low in the grate.
“Weren’t you getting a bit parky out there?” said Joby.
“No, that’s the crazy thing”, said Ransey “We didn’t feel the cold at all. Look at my arm, no goose-bumps”.
“That’s this house all over”, said Hillyard “All normal rules of physics don’t apply. Did you find out where the walkway went?”
“No it seems to run for quite some way round the building”, said Kieran, pouring out more brandy “We thought we’d better come back before we got lost”.
“It reminds me of all the lighthouses we’ve been in”, said Ransey.
“Are you alright, old man?” said Hillyard “You look like you’ve been chopping onions”.
“What have you been up to now, Kieran?” Joby sighed.
“It’s not Kieran’s fault”, said Ransey, accepting a glass of brandy “You don’t have to tell him off”.
“No, next time you do that”, said Kieran “Ransey wants to hand you the hair-brush!”
“Hey”, said Hillyard “I can hear Bardin’s voice down the corridor”.
“You’re imagining it”, said Joby “I often dream I’m hearing Bardin’s voice, so does Bengo”.
“No it’s him”, said Kieran “I can hear him too”.
Ransey slid open the bolt and opened the door. He was mildly shocked by the intense night-time gloom of the corridor. Bengo and Bardin gradually emerged out of it, coming towards him.
“It’s ten-to-three in the morning”, said Ransey, consulting his watch “What are you doing wandering about at this time of the night? Why aren’t you in bed over on the galleon?”
“Well if it comes to that”, said Bardin “Why aren’t you in bed over on the galleon?”
“Because we’ve been in bed here”, said Hillyard “I see your back’s recovered then. No walking-stick”.
“Bardin wants to go and look at that rotten door in the rotten old cellar”, said Bengo “The one you and Kieran found. It’s all his idea. I’d be happy to go to bed”.
“That’s always been your trouble”, said Bardin “No drive, no ambition. I’ve had to have enough for both of us”.
“You’ve got enough for all of us!” said Bengo, crossly.
“Anyway, I got the key to it out of Pabbio”, said Bardin, triumphantly holding up a formidable-looking key.
“How did you get it from him?” said Kieran.
“He frightens Pabbio so much”, said Bengo “That he only has to ask for it and Pabbio chucks it on the desk for him!”
“Bardin, that’s completely unethical behaviour”, said Kieran.
“Well I’m not the only one who uses unethical behaviour sometimes!” said Bardin.
“Alright, that’s enough”, said Joby “We’ve already had enough of that kind of talk this evening”.
“Oh Adam says he’s thinking of firing you”, said Bardin “For having disappeared for hours on end”.
“Good!” said Joby “I can be a gentleman of leisure from now on then”.
Ransey suddenly snatched the key from Bardin, who gave a yelp of protest.
“You are NOT investigating that door at this time of night”, said Ransey, sternly “It can wait until a more appropriate time”.
“But …” Bardin expostulated.
“That’s enough”, said Ransey, clearly enjoying trumping his captain “You aren’t going down there tonight. I forbid it. Instead we are all going back to the galleon to get some much-needed rest”.
“Ooh Ransey”, said Bengo, admiringly “You are so masterful”.
“I’ve been getting lessons off Joby”, said Ransey.
Go forward to next chapter
Return to Sarah Hapgood's Strange Tales and Strange Places web site