GULL! - the Sequel (not yet complete or titled)

 Chapter 1



   The boat swayed and rocked in the light swell of the North Sea on a darkening autumn afternoon as the two divers readied themselves for their last dive of the day; the last dive of their weekend away. Tomorrow they would be heading back southwards to their other world of families and work and worries, but here, now, they could dive and swim and explore the wonders of marine life and wrecks. And they were determined to get in this last dive before darkness and a forecasted night of wind and rain stopped them.

   Last safety checks done Carla carefully lowered herself over the side and followed the dive rope down beneath the waves. Phil was less careful with his entry and with a cry of, “Geronimo!” leaped frog-like into the water. Harry and Dave, left on board as safety back-up, merely shook their heads and sat down to finish off the last of the coffee and sandwiches. 

   It had been a long day; out with the first high tide of the day at 7.30 and now at approaching six o’clock they were tired and ready for a pint, some supper and bed. Still the dives had been good and now they could face another few weeks of work, busier than usual in the run up to Christmas.

   Down below the two divers had reached the sea bed and had decided to explore westwards, going underneath the boat which they could just about make out against the fading light above. No one had tried that way yet today and as they had only twenty minutes or so before they had to surface they swam quickly away. Their lights picked out colonies of brightly coloured anemones and the white vicious looking teeth and black eyes of wolf-fish staring out at them from between the rocks. A huge, brilliant white sea slug making its way through a field of hydroids caught Carla’s attention and she veered away to take a closer look. Phil was anxious to cover as much ground as he could and gestured to her to wait there while he looked beyond the large rocks further on.

   As he swam over the top of the rocks his light caught the dark, coral-encrusted wreck of what he judged must be a small cargo boat. His first thought was to swim back to tell Carla but when he checked his watch and saw he had only ten minutes dive time left he decided to press on alone. 

   There was no point in trying to find the boats name, by the masses of coral he knew it had been down here for many years and what wasn’t covered would be rusted. Taking less care than he would normally he swam over the top-rail and along the deck towards the bridge. As he neared the bridge he looked down to find that one of the large hold covers was missing and he just could not resist doing what years of experience told him not to; he arched and swan down into the hold alone. 

   It was back to work tomorrow, back to traffic and people and worrying about money – and here he felt free and this was top rate adventure! He swung his torch from side to side as he swam downwards, looking for potential dangers; loose girders or dangling cables that might catch and cut. The beam cut through the gloom and something glinted back from the furthest corner of the hold. 

   Excited now by finding something not covered by rust or sand or sea life he swam quickly to the corner. As he drew nearer so the shape of the object became clearer. It was round and it was silver and it was his special find. As he reached out to pick the sphere up another beam of light shone down into the hold and knowing it was Carla he raised his hand to gesture that she should stop as he was on his way back out. He quickly put the sphere into his side bag and turned and swam up towards Carla’s light.

   Together they retraced their path to the dive line and began the slow, careful rise to the surface; too much haste now would mean the bends and at best a trip to the local hospital. When they eventually reached the surface and got on board the last fading light of day had gone and they wasted no time in starting the outboard motor to make their way back to harbour. Once there they worked together to drag the boat up the slipway and onto the trailer ready to be towed back home with them in the morning. 

   “Right, let’s get back to the caravan, get changed and hit the “Smugglers” for a pint and a “Chef’s Special,” Harry announced as he turned the ignition key on the Land Rover.

   “Brilliant!” Carla agreed, “Bags I get first go in the shower though.” 

   “What do you want a shower for?” Dave objected, “You’ve only just got out of the bath.”

   “A girl’s got to look and feel her best when she goes out on the town you know!” Carla explained.

   “On the town… you’re going to the only pub in the village with three mates from the dive club and the only others that will be there at this time of the year will be “Don the Dismal” who seems to live there and Sheila, the barmaid,” Dave argued.

   “Don’t forget Bruce with his big brown eyes that can melt a lady’s heart in seconds!” Harry chipped in.

   Carla laughed, “Aye, his lick can make a bag of beef crisps disappear pretty quickly as well! What kind of dog is he anyway?”

   “A hungry one!” Harry and Dave answered together.

   “Hey, have we left Phil behind at the harbour? He’s keeping very quiet for a man who’s about to try the delights of the chef’s special for the last time this trip!” Carla observed as Harry took a wide turn into the caravan site entrance.

   “No, he’s here in the back messing around with his new toy. What is that thing you’re playing with, Phil?” Dave asked.

   “What… oh er, it’s something I found on the last dive. Some kind of sphere… it looks as if should be heavy but it’s really quite light and look, it’s not got any rust or growth on it at all. It’s just as if it’s only been down there for a few days but the boat I found it in was eaten up with rust,” Phil answered in a quiet, puzzled tone, “And I think it’s hollow… it might be some kind of container or something.”

   The lights of the Land Rover lit up their caravan and Harry pulled up alongside it. Carla quickly opened her door and made a dash to get to the shower before the others changed their minds. There was no need to worry on that count as Dave and Harry had no intention of having a shower and Phil was too taken up with studying the sphere, remaining sat in the back of the Land Rover for several minutes after the others had gone. 

   His concentration was broken when the door was suddenly swung open and two hands reached in and snatched the sphere from his grasp.

   “My ball!” Harry shouted and as Dave threw the sphere over the top of the Land Rover to him he caught it, dropped it and began dribbling it around the caravan.

   “All right lads, stop playing silly beggars and let me have it back.”

   “Go and get yourself ready for the pub then… if you’re ready in less than five minutes you can have it back… if not we kick it into the pond and you’ll have to spend your last evening here fighting the ducks for it!” Harry replied with a smirk.

   “Oh, and don’t go near the shower, there’s a vicious Carla in there trying to make herself presentable for the locals!” Dave warned.

   Carla was still in the shower when Phil rejoined them outside.

   “Come on, let’s get our coats and get off to the Smugglers, Harry said as he tossed the sphere back to Phil, “My mouth is as dry as a camel’s belly! You’re right though, that is a strange piece of sea junk; we’ll have to have a proper look at it in the morning.”

   Phil caught it and went back into the caravan to put it on his bed. As he got back to the entrance he called out to Carla, “Come on, Cinderella, you’ve got three Prince Charmings out here waiting for you… not to mention a hungry dog. Get a move on will you!”

   “I’ve just got to dry my hair and put my face on. You get going and I’ll be there in about ten minutes ok?”

   “Ok, we’ll order your food for you. See you!”

   “Yeh… see you!”

   The Smugglers Arms was just beginning to liven up for the evening as they arrived. Sunday night was quiz night and the locals took their quizzing seriously, settling themselves down into their favourite seats early in readiness for the nine o’clock start. The Dive club only just managed to get a table in the far corner of the room and the “Chef’s Special” had to be swapped for a cold beef sandwich and a packet of crisps as the chef was also the quizmaster. Still, at least they might have a chance of winning the quiz when Carla joined them; after all she was a teacher!

   Back at the caravan Carla was having a bit of difficulty with her hair drier – she couldn’t find it! Having looked through all of her own bags and drawers and under her bed she decided to widen her search to include the rest of the caravan. 

   As she entered the room that Phil shared with Dave she noticed and odd, round lump under the covers of the bottom bunk. Realising immediately that it must be Phil’s find she just couldn’t resist taking a look and pulled back the covers. The sphere glinted as its silvery blue-grey shell caught the light of the room. Fascinated by its shine and its strange indentations that made it look so other-worldly she sat down beside it on the bed.  As she picked it up and turned it in her hands she was surprised by its lightness and moved her fingers across the smooth surface to let her fingertips explore the hollows. She took in a little gulp of air as they dropped neatly into place at one part of its surface. With the sphere now nestled in her lap she pressed down into the finger holes and again gasped as the top third of the sphere began to rotate and then pop apart from it revealing a dark hole that seemed to absorb the light.

   As she gazed down into blackness of the hole a sudden movement within it made her start and she threw it to the end of the bed. A shapeless shadow rose up from the blackness and moved towards her. A scream started to form in her throat but had no time to be born as the shadow engulfed her face and her mind emptied.

   Dave stood up, wiped the crumbs from his lips and asked, “Ready for another pint lads?”

   Phil and Harry both drained the froth from their glasses and held them out in reply.

   “What do you think Carla is up to then, even she doesn’t usually take this long to get ready?” Harry asked as he let Bruce finish off his crisps.

   “Oh, she’s probably fallen asleep putting her eye shadow on. We’ll get back and she’ll be there at the mirror snoring away with one and a half blue eyelids,” Phil grinned.

   “Or with two luscious red lips and a red line going up her face and through her hair,” Harry laughed.

   Dave rejoined them with their drinks and a worried look. “Here we are, two of the best to wash down your sarnies. I hope Carla hurries up; we’ve got no chance without her, this lot take their quizzing seriously you know. There’s a five pound entrance fee per team and a hundred pound prize!”

   Harry looked up still grinning, “We were just talking about her – do you think one of us ought to go back and see if she’s alright?”

   Dave was about to reply when the loudspeaker by his left ear crackled loudly and the chef shouted, “Get your pencils and answer sheets ready here comes the first set of questions!”

   “What on earth is he using an amplifier for; we could have done the quiz in the caravan with that voice!” Dave complained, rubbing his ear as he sat down.

   “Question number one… How many feet are there in 9 miles?”

   The room fell silent as all the teams began working out 1760x3x9. Silent apart from the scratching of pencils on paper and the gentle snoring of Bruce, asleep in front of the open fire with his legs in the air. Phil, hopeless with numbers, looked across at him and suddenly broke the concentrated silence by calling out, “Hey, Bruce is a girl!”

   There was a mass jump followed by a mass turning of heads to stare at the idiot who had broken their concentration by shouting out something that everyone knew. 

   The loudspeaker came to life again as the chef proclaimed, “If the team in the corner interrupts the quiz again they will be on tomorrow’s menu!”

   “I think he means it as well!” Harry whispered and gave Phil a hard stare.

   “But he is a girl… look!”

   “If you shut up I’ll explain later,” Dave promised in a voice that made it sound like a threat.

   “Question number two… What is the name of the Roman god of war?”

   Phil, still rankled by his telling off, was now staring at the window, watching the forecasted heavy rain explode on the window panes. A pale staring face suddenly appeared and he instantly called out, “Carla!”

   There was no crackle from the loudspeaker this time but the voice was even louder, “Right you lot, I’ll give you ten seconds start and then I’ll be after you with my biggest meat cleaver… one!”

   By seven the door was closing behind them and they tumbled out into the, now more welcoming, wind and rain. Carla was still there, standing in her shorts and tee-shirt and bare feet and still staring into the window.

   “Carla… Carla… Are you ok?” Phil asked as he took his coat off and draped it around her.

   “I… er… There was something in the caravan… I don’t know what but…” Her voice trailed away as she tried to think about what she’d seen but nothing came to mind. She couldn’t remember anything at all about what had happened except that something had happened – something that scared her.

   “Come on, let’s get you back and dried off. A mug of cocoa might help as well,” Phil comforted her but he felt her stiffen again as he turned her in the direction of the caravan site. “You’ll be alright now we’re with you… Harry and Dave can go in first to check it out.”

   “Yes, I’ll go in and see if there’s anything there,” Harry agreed.

   “Yes, Harry will go in first… Good man Harry!” Dave added quickly.

   The caravan was in darkness and the door was wide open, the wind driving the rain deep inside. Dave and Phil looked at Harry and gestured for him to go in. Carla just stared down at the mud that was now oozing between her toes and she shivered.

   “I’ll go in then shall I?” Harry asked a little nervously as he caught some of Carla’s fear and he warily climbed the three steps up to the door and went in. 

   After a very long minute or so, in which the three outside strained their ears and eyes to get some clue as to what was happening inside, the lounge light came on and they could see Harry’s shadow moving around on the curtains. The shadow made something click deep in Carla’s memory and she again stiffened and let out a shrill whimper. Phil hugged her close again but never took his eye’s from the caravan. The shadow moved and again disappeared as it made its way towards the bedrooms. More light came on and then Harry reappeared in the doorway.

   “No one there… No sign of anything missing or anything,” He reported, “Are you lot going to stand out there all night?”

   Dave rushed up the steps, eager to make sure for himself that all was normal. Carla had to be gently pushed and persuaded to go in by Phil and it was a long time before she eventually sat down and took the first sips of warm cocoa.

   When she had got half way down the drink and was getting some colour back in her cheeks Harry sat down beside her and softly asked, “Do you remember anything now?”

   Carla closed her eyes and thought for several minutes before finally shaking her head and taking another sip and then asking, “Can we go home now?”

   “In the morning Carla, in the morning I promise,” Harry replied, “And if we have to stay awake all night to look after you we will so don’t worry.”

   As he comforted Carla with his words Phil appeared in the doorway holding the two sections of the sphere in his hands. “Do you know anything about this, Carla?” He asked, his voice was soft but told of his puzzlement. “I know it was intact when we left for the pub.”

   Carla looked up and as she saw the sphere she dropped the mug and turned her face away, curling up with her hands over her head and hiding behind Harry’s back.

   “Take that thing and sling it in the bin, we’re going home!” Harry shouted. “Dave, get everything packed into the Land Rover. We’re off!”

A walk on the beach … a landslip… a scavenging gull… suddenly Aimee and her brother are forced to confront their enemies, past and present. The ‘accidental’ discovery of an old bottle with remarkable properties brings them face to face with Larus, an evil adversary of their ancestors. This conflict is mirrored by their families fight with George Walmsley, a murderous villain, who is responsible for their father’s disappearance. And when Walmsley and Larus join forces only quick wits and a united family can hope to survive. Great excitement, great fun and Cuddles the dog as well!