The Adventures of Nathan Sunnybank and Joe Greenfield
Book 1: Poison
NICOLAS pulled his car onto the now familiar gravel outside Greenfield Mansion. The moon played shadows on the steps to the front door as he and Felicity quickly made their way indoors. The lobby and drawing room lights were still burning and the house seemed unusually warm. Nicolas suddenly remembered that he had probably left his own back door open and his cottage would be far from warm.
“Blinkin’ goats!” he spouted involuntarily.
“Pardon?” exclaimed Felicity.
“Oh, nothing important,” answered Nicolas. “I have just remembered that I probably left my back door open and you can bet the goats will be in the kitchen or conservatory again… the blighters make such a mess if they get inside.”
Felicity smiled broadly and giggled to herself quietly. Nicolas’s cottage was a mess anyway, she thought.
“Look, I have an idea,” she said, brightening suddenly.
“Why don’t you pop home and sort out your goats and things, pack a bag and come back. I can get Bob to make up a bed for you in the West Wing and we can plan what to do next.
“Meanwhile I will telephone the police station,” she added.
“Sounds like a plan,” said Nicolas. “And a good one too… I won’t be long,” he added. He made his way back towards the front door, the stopped and turned towards Felicity.
“Oh, the registration plate on Tony’s Porsche is T04Y WWD,” he said.
“Crikey, that was observant of you,” Felicity replied, blowing an air kiss in his direction.
Nicolas blushed and waved as he hurried outside.
Back at Severn Avenue, all hell had broken loose.
In what seemed to be a co-ordinated simultaneous action the younger man, Rolf, tumbled forward down the stairs cracking his head hard on the bottom banister as he fell.
At that same moment a grey haired animal leapt from the open front door and sank its fangs into the right leg of the blonde haired man Klaus. The pain of the animal’s bite shot up his leg into his thigh and groin. He crumpled to one side, firing his silenced Walther revolver three times into the kitchen door. The wolf was upon him, now biting hard into his right wrist until the gun dropped onto the hallway carpet. Quick as a flash Nathan kicked out and sent the revolver spinning into the open living room.
“Blue!” Joe yelled. “You beauty!”
“Blinkin’ heck,” gasped Nathan, “What is he doing here and what a life saver!”
The wolf was now standing astride a terrified Klaus, slavering onto his face.
The wolf made eye contact with Joe as the young boy ordered: “Hold… don’t kill!”
Nathan moved towards the body of Rolf, who lay just four feet away. The man’s swollen right hand gave away the secret. TJ’s bag and its contents lay scattered on the stairs, and in the half-light, Nathan examined where the pieces of fungi had fallen.
Nathan turned to Amy and Joe, who were now both on their feet.
Amy was shaking almost uncontrollably as Nathan ordered: “Don’t touch anything… this other guy is dead… but I think it was the fall that killed him and not the Grey Skull shrooms!”
Joe placed a hand on Amy’s arm and hugged her.
“Don’t touch that grey stuff on your stairs, Amy, they are poisonous,” he told her.
He turned to Nathan and added: “And you, matey, are a legend.”
Amy was slowly regaining her composure. She moved quickly and closed the front door. As she did so she noticed the lights in a number of houses opposite were switched on and she could see faces peering out of one upstairs window.
“Whaaaat is that?” she stammered pointing at Blue.
“Never seen a wolf before,” Joe grinned back at her. “He’s mine, he’s called Blue… but I’ll be blowed how he got here! Look, he will let you pet him,” he added, tousling Blue’s mane.
Under the wolf, the blond haired man’s face was almost white with fear as the animal’s dribble trickled around his chin and throat. Blood oozed from his leg and right wrist. His grey eyes blinked into the unflinching green eyes of his captor and guard.
“We need to ring the police now,” interrupted Amy urgently.
At Landfill Cottage, Nicolas’s VW pulled up outside the back door. He jumped out and ran into the conservatory. The door was still open, blowing back and forth in the gentle night time breeze. He reached for the light switch and in the electric glow he surveyed the devastation that two unattended goats could cause. Chewed wicker furniture, a broken mug, a ruined rug and half eaten tomato plants gave an indication what lay ahead.
“Oh dang it, blinkin’ goats,” Nicolas swore.
He turned on the kitchen lights and viewed the mess, which included a well gnawed pine chair and two decimated wooden door handles, while the entire contents of the veg rack and the kitchen waste bin were strewn everywhere.
Next to the kitchen range, two content goats slept soundly.
Nicolas moved quickly towards the animals. He poked the first goat with his foot and shouted: “Right you two… outside!”
The animals started, before obediently trotting out through the kitchen door and into the conservatory. Nicolas followed and watched as the younger of the two animals stopped to take a bite out of what was left of a tomato plant.
“No, Annie, get outside!” he shouted.
The goats broke into a run through the conservatory door and onto the veranda, leaving pebble-shaped involuntary mementoes of their stay as they ran.
Nicolas shut the door behind them and began the tiresome task of cleaning up the mess.
Two full black bin bags and a matted broom later, the kitchen was passable. He would need to clean it properly another time.
The conservatory was a different matter. The mess of chewed tomato plants, strewn compost and goat poo needed a shovel, a bucket, disinfectant and a mop.
Nicolas had just finished the cleaning and was thinking about selling the goats and packing an overnight bag when he noticed a piece of half chewed note paper on the floor by the left hand window. The paper betrayed his son’s neat handwriting and he could make out the words: “Love Nathan”. He bent down, picked up what remained of the note and began to read it.
A mile away in the lobby of Greenfield Mansion, her Ladyship was explaining to Bob about their pursuit of Master Anthony.
“I need to speak to his father,” she was saying, “He has as good as abducted my daughter. He is in real trouble when I catch up with him.”
“Yes Ma’am,” said Bob, yawning.
“Oh, Bob,” I am so very sorry,” gulped Lady Felicity. “It is well past your duty hours and your bedtime. Please get yourself to bed and thank you for everything you have done.” “Thank you Ma’am,” answered the butler, “But as long as you are sure there is nothing else I can do tonight.”
“Oh, just one small thing,” Lady Felicity remembered. “Do you mind turning back the bed and putting a radiator on in the Elizabeth Room in the West Wing… Mr Sunnybank may be staying tonight?”
“Not at all,” answered Bob as he trotted off towards the back staircase, grinning quietly to himself.
Felicity sat on the chaise longue next to the landline telephone in the lobby and prepared to give the local police station both barrels of her anger.
She breathed in deeply and was about to dial the station’s number when she noticed Clara’s pink mobile phone on the lobby table next to her.
“Blimey, I thought Master Anthony had taken that,” she exclaimed loudly.
She picked up the phone and for the first time since her daughter was fourteen decided to read her text messages.
“I know I shouldn’t but a mother must do what a mother must do,” she muttered.
Felicity quickly scanned the most recent text conversation and grew quickly agitated when she read the recent exchange between Clara and Tony.
The agitation turned to fear and anger when she then read Clara’s original text message.
“I am unsure who is going to feel my wrath first,” she fumed, “my darling daughter or that duplicitous boy!”
“But I am sure of one thing… the police need to know now!!
And she began to dial the police station number on her landline phone.
At Albert Avenue in Shrewsbury, a red Porsche Boxster pulled up under a leafy Rowan tree outside a terraced house advertising bed and breakfast. The car’s occupant glanced at the upstairs windows of the building and then at the packed holdall on the passenger seat.
“Phew, that was close getting away from Lady Felicity and that guy from the cottage,” Tony thought to himself. “I hope she doesn’t involve dad in all of this or there could be hell to pay. I just hope it is all worth it.”
He turned to his mobile phone and sent a short text to Clara.
Two streets away in a black BMW, a laptop computer was beeping for attention. Almost 140 miles further away, the caller’s steel grey eyes were growing agitated at the failure of his operatives to respond.
The last text message on his phone simply read: “We are moving on the girl now.”
But there had been no further contact for more than an hour.
In a room less than three miles from this location two blank eyes gazed towards the ceiling of a surgically clean painted room.