The Adventures of Nathan Sunnybank and Joe Greenfield
Book 1: Poison
IN the kitchen of 24 Severn Avenue, Amy was making baked beans on toast for her two unexpected visitors.
“Typical kids, thinking they can survive on chocolate fingers and jelly beans,” she mused.
Amy had known TJ since college and they had become best friends. But while Amy happily worked her time in the bar of a local restaurant, TJ enveloped her life in environmental action and saving endangered animals, such as the orang-utans in the picture that Nathan had shown her.
Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Rainbow Warriors and Wildlife Action, TJ had joined just about every environmental action group going. She was a real hero in Amy’s eyes.
“But,” thought Amy, “TJ made some nasty enemies.”
She buttered the toast and spooned the beans on top.
“How much should I tell them?” Amy wondered.
In the living room the two boys had the same thoughts about how much they needed to let TJ’s friend know.
“Tea-time!” yelled Amy, and she was soon joined in the small kitchen by two smiling young boys.
“Wash your hands first!” she ordered, “And if you eat all the beans, there is a surprise for pudding!”
After a hearty tea and a surprise of chocolate muffins and custard, the trio sat down in the front room to talk…. but only after Amy had drawn the curtains closed.
“Why have you shut the curtains?” asked Joe, “It’s sunny outside!”
“Just in case we are being watched,” answered Amy nervously.
They all looked nervously at each other.
Amy nodded and sipped at a cup of coffee.
Nathan began to tell what he knew of TJ’s disappearance and her mysterious life-threatening condition.
He pulled out a scribbled hand-written note, and explained he had received it in the post three weeks ago, along with the photo of TJ and the red ape.
He was relieved that on school days he usually got the post first or his dad might have asked some awkward questions.
But Nathan had not recognised the stamps on the envelope it came in. He told Amy it was “foreign” and the postmark bore the name Kuching.
The note told Nathan that his sister was seriously ill in hospital after being attacked while trying to save two baby orang-utans.
She was in a deep coma and only one thing could bring her out of the coma, and maybe then she could tell them all what happened.
The writer needed Joe to milk a small amount of venom from his brother’s Green Tree Viper – “he knows how to do it safely” said the note – and take the vial of venom to an address in London.
But the note went on to say that under no circumstances must either Nathan or Joe tell their parents, nor the police, or TJ could die.
“There are other people trying to find her first,” it added.
The note was signed by Joe’s brother Sam.
He had added a PS saying he would join them as soon as he could.
“Where’s the envelope now?” asked Amy.
“Sorry, I think I threw it in the kitchen bin,” answered Nathan.
Amy moved across to a small desk and switched on an old PC.
Once logged in she Googled the word Kuching.
“My God,” she exclaimed, “It is the capital of Sarawak in Borneo… that’s where orang-utans live…. TJ was always going on about wanting to go there.”
Amy froze and put her right hand to her forehead.
“Now something is beginning to make sense,” she muttered.
“What do you mean?” asked Joe.
Amy explained that she had received two strange mobile text messages from TJ a few weeks earlier, saying she was going on a potentially dangerous mission to help save some endangered animals.
She added that TJ and Sam had been “a bit of an item” for the past six months and were “almost inseparable”.
They said they were going abroad together for a short holiday.
Amy had suggested Tenerife, but TJ had winked and said: “No, someplace else.”
“Urgh gross!” exclaimed Joe, “Your sister and my brother… bet they’ve been snogging!”
“Yuk!” retorted Nathan, poking his tongue out.
“But,” said Amy, “There is something which is now worrying me a lot.”
She told the boys how, about a week ago, she had answered the door to a tall blonde haired man, with steely grey eyes and a deep tan, who said he was a friend of TJ’s and she had asked him to fetch a bag from her room.
“He was quite convincing and nice at first, but I wouldn’t let him in, because I saw another man watching us from a black car across the road, and something did not seem right,” said Amy.
“He became quite angry and told me if I knew what was good for me I would get the bag for him.
“I slammed the door in his face and watched him cross the road and get into the black car with the other man and drive away.
“He had a European accent,” she added suddenly, “Sort of German or maybe Austrian.”
By now Amy was shaking and started to cry.
“I have been really frightened and was going to ring the police, but later that day I got this phone call on my mobile telling me if I told anyone about the visit I would not see TJ again.”
Amy was now in floods of tears and between sobs muttered in frightened tones: “How did he know my mobile number?”
Nathan and Joe sidled up either side of her on the sofa and the three cuddled close.
“I haven’t left the house… but I have seen the car and the blonde haired man in the street every day since then.”
“But where is the bag?” asked Nathan.
Amy reached under the sofa and pulled out a small blue denim handbag.
“I think this is maybe it,” she said.
Back at Greenfield Mansion, Felicity was hurrying across the grass towards her studio with a flustered and red faced Bob beside her, carrying her easel and painting gear.
“It is unlike Nicolas to be so worried,” she said as she allowed Bob to put her painting things away while she tripped through the scullery door.
Ignoring Joy, who was ironing a pile of boy’s jeans and T shirts, Felicity walked towards the drawing room.
“Oh Nicolas, I am so sorry to have kept you waiting… whatever is it?” she asked.
Nicolas got up from the Chesterfield, smiled wanly and explained his afternoon discoveries.
“Oh my Lord!” responded Felicity.
“I have not seen Nathan at all today, and come to think of it, have not seen Joe since breakfast… and Bob says neither he, Helen nor Joy have seen him either.”
Nicolas held Felicity’s hand and quietly but purposefully said: “I think this maybe more serious than I first thought!”
The two parents looked worryingly into each other’s eyes.
Felicity blinked first.
At that moment Bob reappeared at the drawing room door.
“Ma’am, there is the young Mr Anthony Woodward to see you… he’s says it’s urgent,” said the butler.
Felicity and Nicolas turned as the strapping and dashingly handsome Tony Woodward strode into the room.
“Your ladyship,” he exclaimed, ignoring the presence of Nicolas.
“I am so sorry to bother you, but Clara did not turn up for her violin lesson this morning and I can’t get any reply to calls I have made to her mobile phone.”
“But,” said Lady Greenfield, “I thought she was having cello lessons?”
“Oh, sorry,” replied Tony, “I meant cello, just a slip of the tongue,” he lied, blushing.
There was a silence.
“Curiouser and curiouser,” said Lady Greenfield. “Follow me….”
Felicity, Nicolas, Tony and Bob the butler together hurried into the main hallway and up a flight of stairs to the first landing.
The first bedroom they visited was that of a small boy, littered with toys and computer games, with a large drum kit standing in the corner.
Felicity glanced around and exclaimed: “Well, the only things missing are my son’s GI Joe bag… and my son!
“And possibly this torch,” she added, holding the silvered flashlight in her left hand.
The four adults ventured across the landing to a much larger bedroom.
On the unmade bed was a Jack Wills clothing catalogue, an array of designer blouses and jeans and a small pink mobile phone flashing and making a pinging sound.
Tony picked up the phone and clicked it open.
“Blimey!” he started, and blushing red again added: “Didn’t realise I had sent her quite so many text messages and calls today!”
“So,” said Lady Greenfield, “We are now missing two young boys and my daughter Clara!”
“And I believe the wolf Blue,” interrupted Bob, “None of the staff have seen the animal since this morning!”
Some hours later at 24 Severn Avenue, Amy tucked Nathan and Joe into the double bed in TJ’s room.
The boys looked exhausted, but she was glad of their company.
She peered out through the bedroom curtains.
The pair of curious brown eyes had departed the street to a bed and breakfast nearby.
But two sinister grey eyes still watched the house from behind the steam of a Chinese takeaway in the front driver’s seat of the black BMW car.
And from under the laurel bush the piercing green eyes watched everything.