The Adventures of Nathan Sunnybank and Joe Greenfield
Book 1: Poison
BACK at Greenfield Mansion two frantic parents jumped into the VW Polo parked on the gravel outside. Nicolas flicked the ignition and the car tore off down the drive to the gates of the manor house. He turned a sharp left and drove as fast as he could into the nearby town.
It was almost midnight and Gresburton was surprisingly quiet for a Monday night. The high street had temporary traffic lights for road works to the gas mains, but Nicolas ignored the red light and sped straight on to the Old Granary at the junction with John Talbot Street.
The car came to a stop outside a recently renovated barn type building. Nicolas and Felicity jumped out and looked up towards the penthouse flat above them. Lights were burning in all the windows and they could just make out the shadow of a man walking across one of the rooms.
Nicolas was the first to move. He pressed the button on the intercom at the front door. It made a familiar buzzing sound. After what seemed ages, an even more familiar voice emanated from the intercom and asked: “Yes, who is it?”
Nicolas almost barked: “Tony, is that you? It is Nicolas, Nathan’s dad.”
“And Felicity,” her Ladyship shouted from his side.
The intercom went dead. Nicolas pressed the button again… but no reply. He tried twice more, but again no answer. In the distance, they heard a door bang shut, but nothing more.
“Darn it, the blighter is ignoring us,” Felicity almost screamed. “What do we do next?”
At that moment the two worried parents heard the sound of a powerful car engine start just around the corner from the Old Granary. They moved towards the sound and the roar of the engine was suddenly upon them. Looking right they froze as a red Porsche Boxster turned the corner and raced away in the direction of the Old London Road. Nicolas took a mental note of the registration plate: T04Y WWD.
“Dang and blast!” shouted Lady Felicity. “What are we going to do now?”
“We will never catch him in this old thing,” answered Nicolas, pointing towards his VW, “She was a good car in her time, but I am lucky to get 60mph out of her now.”
“Well I guess we had better get back to the manor and ring the police again,” suggested Felicity.
Sometime later in the night at Severn Avenue things were starting to happen.
Amy sat on the sofa in the dark living room of her house with her right hand over her mouth.
“Crikey, I hope I didn’t wake the boys,” she said quietly to herself. “I can’t believe it had not occurred to me before.”
But the sound of footsteps on the stairs betrayed the fact that both the boys had woken at the sound of Amy’s involuntary shout.
“What is it Amy? Are you okay?” Nathan asked from the doorway to the living room. Joe peered over his shoulder and broached the same question. They both noticed a change in Amy’s demeanour. No longer did she look frightened or nervous, but she actually appeared excited.
“I think I have worked out the significance of the pictures,” she said suddenly, “and the five figure number!” Amy opened her arms towards the boys and said: “Come here and have a look and let me know what you think.”
The boys sat either side of their new friend on the comfort of the sofa. Amy produced four rough A4 print outs of the photos they had seen earlier on her PC.
“I thought I recognised the building,” said Amy. “I remember last summer when TJ and I went to London for the day for a protest march at Hyde Park against something like oil drilling in Sumatra or somewhere like that. Anyway, TJ pointed out this building to me when we were on the coach down there, she said it was the university where Sam works.”
“Yeah, it’s Glenwing,” interrupted Joe, “Sam took me down there a few years ago to show me some amazing snakes. But I don’t remember it looking like that!”
“That’s because the School of Tropical Reptiles is around the back of this building,” explained Amy. “I found the university on Google, it is in North London and have double checked everything on their website… this is it!”
Amy led the boys across the small living room to the PC and slowly showed them the information and pictures she had found while they were asleep.
“So what I think I have worked out is this,” she continued. “We know that wherever TJ went with Sam may have been dangerous. I reckon TJ left this bag here on purpose, as a life-line if things got nasty.”
“But what about the lockers and that number?” asked Nathan, “You haven’t explained that yet.”
“I have thought that one out,” said Amy. “I know your sister and your brother have only been going steady for a few months, but they have known each other a good deal longer. They met when your mum held that party at your manor house after you know what,” she added, looking at Joe.
“Oh, you mean after dad disappeared!” giggled Joe.
“Yes, exactly, and that was a good few years ago, you were still a wee nipper then, Joe,” Amy smiled back. “I remember TJ telling me that she and Sam shared a real passion for wildlife things, even though she hated snakes. So that explains why she pointed out Sam’s university over a year ago, even though it didn’t register with me at the time. And that explains why this pink fuzzball here is dangling from a locker door at Sam’s university,” she added with a spark in her eyes.
“And that number could be the key code for the locker or something,” suggested Nathan. “And the library card could be for the university library,” he added.
“I think you could be right,” returned Amy.
“Now then, what is that address that Sam asked you to go to?” she asked an equally excited boy.
Nathan said he would get Sam’s note from his bag and quickly ran upstairs to the bedroom.
Joe and Amy sat and stared at the print outs of TJ’s photos.
Suddenly there was the sound of a dull thump on the back wall of the house and the three friends were plunged into darkness as the lights went out.
“Blinkin’ hell, what was that?” shouted Nathan from upstairs.
“Don’t worry, it’s just a power cut,” Amy called back, “Stay where you are and I will find a candle.”
But before she could move she heard Nathan padding quickly downstairs. “Shhhhh,” he whispered. “I don’t think it is a power cut. I looked out the window and the streets lamps are on and there are lights in the windows of a few other houses across the road… anyway, there is someone in your back garden!”
Amy and Joe fell silent as Nathan led them back upstairs and pulled a corner of the bedroom curtains aside to peer outside. In the half-light, they could make out two men by the hedge. One was wearing what appeared to be yellow rubber gloves and was carrying a large pair of cutters while the other was carrying what looked like a hand gun… with a very long barrel. The first man knelt down, removed his gloves and began to open a black attaché case, he glanced up at the window.
“Oh my god,” choked Amy. ”It’s that blonde man I told you about and his mate. What are we going to do? They are after that bag.”
“Easily sorted,” suggested Nathan calmly. “Hey Joe, where is your torch?”
“I don’t know,” answered Joe. “It was in my bag when I left home, but it had gone when I opened the bag last night.”
“Dang,” snapped Nathan. “Doesn’t matter, we can do without, but it will be more difficult. Okay, Amy, get TJ’s bag and everything else and Joe and I will get dressed properly.”
Amy stood stunned as the young boy seemed to take control of things.
“Cummon, move quickly,” ordered Nathan.
Everything then became a blur of speed. Within what appeared to be a few seconds, the three friends were assembled back in the bedroom. From the dim glow of the street lights across the landing, Nathan put the flashcard, the fuzzball, the library card, the £10 note, the keys and the slip of paper containing the five figure number into his own bag. He then carefully retrieved something from his bag and placed it in TJ’s blue denim bag.
“Okay,” he said. “Now let’s leave TJ’s bag here and get out the front door while those men are still in the back garden. They mean business… and yes he was carrying a gun!”
Without question, Joe and Amy followed Nathan downstairs as quickly and quietly as they could in the darkness and made towards the dim light of the front of the house. Amy turned the Yale lock on the wooden door and opened it quickly. As she did so they heard a crack and clatter as if someone had broken a window or door behind them.
“Quick, run!” Amy was about to scream.
But as she opened her mouth her words stuck… a black leather gloved hand pushed her face backwards and she felt her body falling on top of the two boys.
The three of them lay frozen in fear on the hall carpet as two grey eyes looked down on them and a long barrelled pistol was pressed against Amy’s forehead.
“Sshhh kids, don’t make a noise,” the man with the blonde hair said slowly. “One move or sound and none of you will see the morning and no-one will hear it happen!”
Their attacker glanced up beyond them and barked an order: “Rolf, you look for the bag… it is a blue denim one. I’ll take care of these kids.”
Time seemed to stand still as the boys and Amy lay huddled on the hallway floor. Nathan wriggled a little as Joe held back tears and choked for breath. The gun was still pressed against Amy’s head.
Suddenly they heard a voice from upstairs call: “I have found the bag, boss!”
“Bring it down here, Rolf,” ordered the blonde haired man.
“And now it is time to say goodbye,” he whispered to Amy.
The silencer barrel pressed hard on her forehead, the hammer clicked back on the revolver, in less than a second she knew she would die.
But a sudden deathly scream emanated from the stairwell above them. Everything froze.
Four faces turned instantly upwards towards the noise in time to see a younger man’s face contort with agony as he fell forwards towards them.
From the opened front door a pair of green eyes surveyed the back of the blonde haired man with the gun.