A couple of left-over mini challenges. These are good little kickstarters for creativity.
Challenge words: wonder, wing, flowers, drunk, purpose
Vroo was having the time of his life.
The sun was shining, food was plentiful and even the puddle water had tasted extra good today. He adjusted his wing feathers and began a lazy turn that would carry him across the garden and up onto the roof of The Joneses’ shed, from where he planned to spend the afternoon soaking up the warm rays.
He smashed into unyielding glass, knocking himself senseless. Luckily, the flowers under the window were there to break his fall.
He lay there for a short while in a state of semi-concussed wonder, one of his wings hurting like crazy. How had he managed to hit the window? He'd been banking in good time, he was sure, so he should have missed it.
The crows on the fence just about laughed themselves off their perches. Their wicked plan had borne fruit.
Earlier that day, they had - accidentally on purpose - knocked over a discarded can of beer, spilling its contents into the pigeon's favoured drinking puddle.
There really was no funnier sight than a drunk pigeon.
Challenge words: sweet, whimper, orange glow, flute, dose
The sweet, sad notes of a flute woke me. Through the window, the dawn sky was lit by an orange glow. Red sky in the morning, I thought, shepherd’s warning. The flute died away and was replaced by the tiniest whimper from Mattie, my old king Charles spaniel. He sat next to his bowl, brown eyes large and liquid with supplication. I looked at the clock: 18:45. Not sunrise then but sunset! Poor Mattie, I had slept the day through, missing his breakfast. The bottle of cold remedy sat on the dresser where I had left it and next to it lay the spoon I had used to dose myself. I must have been in a bad way last night – the directions had said 1 TEAspoon. I picked up the tablespoon and headed for the kitchen, waggy-tailed dog in tow.
And, inevitably, more Harold (see the Story So Far link top right to get caught up)
“Drive on past and don’t slow down” barked Box from the passenger seat.
They had just turned into the road that led to the gates of Mr Teeth’s swiss-cheese-windowed mansion. A white van bearing an Infinity Recycling logo, its lights out, was parked so as to block the gateway. The gates themselves stood ajar. There was no sign of anybody around.
“How on Earth did they find us?” India wondered aloud.
“No idea, but they obviously did.” Box exhaled heavily. “This is not good. We’ll have to assume that Mr Jackson won’t be able to help us now, I think.”
“We can’t just leave him, surely?” said India.
“I’m not sure we have a choice,” replied Box, “We don’t have any weapons apart from your taser and we have no idea how many or how heavily armed the Infinity Recycling people are. Our best bet is to get ourselves away from here. I’m betting the Infinity goons aren’t looking for Mr Jackson anyway, so once they find out we’re not there, they might well just leave.”
“We have to get into the house, anyway, though.” Said India.
Box frowned. “Why’s that?”
“The invisibility suits are in there. We need them if we’re going to get into that building. Plus, if we just wait around for them to go, they might find the suits and take them back. We didn’t exactly hide them.”
Box rubbed his brow.
“OK, ok, drive slowly and let me think.” He sighed.
Harold, Teatime and India waited in tense silence as the little brown man cogitated.
“Alright,” Box said, at length. “The first thing we need is information. Mr Teatime,” he said, turning to the little monkey, “would you be willing to go on a information-gathering mission?”
Mr Teeth woke with a start. He’d been dozing at his desk, waiting for the OGS people to come back from the hospital with their colleague. He cast a bleary eye around for the source of the insistent beeping that had awoken him. On his computer screen, a message balloon had popped up, informing him that the front gate had been opened without authorisation.
Mr teeth had grown up on the streets and had a very keenly developed survival sense. He knew that the OGS people had the code to get in the gates legitimately, so whoever had triggered the alarm was no friend of his, that was for sure.
Silently blessing the foresight that had made him spend so much on his security system, he pulled up the feed from the gate camera.
The gates were ajar. A truck was parked across them, but of its occupants there was no sign.
He flicked through the feeds on all the other cameras around the house and grounds.
He stood up and operated the combination lock on the silver-grey metal cabinet behind his chair. The lock gave one final click and he swung the door open. From inside the cabinet, he took out a pump-action shotgun which he quickly loaded and cocked. He grabbed a handful of extra shells and stuffed them into his pocket – you could never have too much ammo as far as he was concerned.
He made his way out of the study into the unlit hallway, pulling the door closed behind him. He stopped to listen for a moment, at the same time allowing his eyes to adjust to the darkness.
No unusual sounds came to him, but then it would take anybody a little while to reach the house from the gate – even running.
He fished his mobile out of his pocket, quickly thumbed through the contacts list and selected one.
“Pauli, this is Elroy,” he said quietly when the other person picked up the call. “Got some unwelcome visitors here, gonna need you and your boys sooner rather than later.”
“Be there in twenty.”
Mr teeth grunted, ended the call and dropped the phone back into his packet.
There were three ways into the house: the front door, the patio doors at the back, and the door from the garage. Mr Teeth didn’t think that the intruders would come in the front door. The garage would be problematic too, as the intruders would have to get it open, then skirt the car to get to the house door, which was an extra obstacle if locked – which it was. No, too much could go wrong with that, and it would take too much time for them.
That left the patio doors.
With the house empty but for himself, only Mr Teeth’s study had been lit.
Keeping out of direct line of sight of the living room doorway, he moved quietly along the dark hall until he could stand to one side of the door to the living room and look in.
A rectangle of pale moonlight marked the position of the patio doors. Through them, Mr teeth could see a smooth expanse of lawn running down to the trees and the ornamental pond. Nothing moved out there; not even the wind stirred the tree branches tonight.
After about a minute, Mr Teeth became aware of a soft sound, a kind of metallic clicking, coming from where the patio door lock was located. Someone was trying to pick the lock. So, whoever it was had elected to take a quiet approach.
Mr teeth steadied the barrel of the shotgun against the doorframe assumed a more balanced stance. He could still not see anyone out there – and his PIR-activated lights had not come on either, which they most certainly should have done by now. Clearly, whoever was out there had access to one of those invisibility suits that the OGS girl and the demon had been going on about.
This was a problem: there was no telling how many people were out there. The van he had seen on the camera feed looked like it could hold half-a-dozen people at most. Six to one were not great odds and when the six were invisible….
Part of Mr Teeth’s brain kept trying to tell him to exercise that particular type of discretion which is the better part of valour and beat feet out of there. A more stubborn part of it, however, put its fingers in its ears and hummed loudly; this was his home after all and he would not be driven out of it.
A soft click came from the lock area. Mr Teeth angled the barrel of the shotgun towards that spot.
The patio door began to slide open – all by itself, apparently.
Mr Teeth fired.