Chapter One


   There are so many things to look for when you walk on a beach: sea creatures, interesting shells and pebbles, messages in bottles washed in with the tide and really anything your imagination can come up with. But in looking down or out to sea you don’t often look behind you and upwards. And that can be a big mistake!

   For some people it might be a gull that rudely awakens them from their daydreams, coating their heads with a stinking, slimy white reminder of where they are. For twelve year old Aimee it was something much less embarrassing and far more frightening...

   The morning’s storm had turned to a light drizzle and as she stooped to pick up an interesting little pink, gold and white shell the first crumbs of clay began to fall into her hair and over her back. Before she had the chance to look up, the crumbs turned to clods and within seconds a whole mass of clay, soil and small stones
had slumped down on top of her. She didn’t have much time to scream and then she couldn’t as her mouth filled with mud. She was sent sprawling to the sand by the overwhelming mass of debris until only the top left half of her head remained uncovered and she was just about able breathe through one nostril.

   After several minutes the realisation of what had happened pushed its way through the fog of shock. “I’ve got to shout for help… the tide will be starting to come in soon.”

   She wiggled her fingers but it soon became obvious that her right arm was trapped underneath her body and her left, though to the side, was held fast by the clay and stones. She tried pushing the mud out of her mouth with her tongue but although she managed to empty it, it was still below the soil and the weight pressing down on her back meant that breathing was so difficult that anything more than a squeak was near to impossible.

   “Oh please, someone come, please,” she thought and again she tried to move her left hand. Her fingers managed a little wriggle and moved a few fragments of earth while the rest of her hand and arm was locked
solidly in place. Another wriggle loosened a little more earth, but it was obvious that unless help came soon she was going to be at the mercy of the sea. “Help, oh please, someone, help.”

   Then more thoughts started to come to her, thoughts of her mum, her brother, Jamie and her dad… her dad, five years gone now. She might never see Mum and Jamie again…but she might see Dad… No, she had to keep trying to move, to shout, and to dig.

   She again tried to wriggle, to claw at the earth and slowly she managed to move enough of it to begin to turn her whole hand a little, but enough to give hope.

   “Yes,” she thought, “I can do it, I will do it, I will escape!”

   She wriggled and clawed and moved until more and more movement came to her left hand and then a little to her arm as she was able to push it forward into the space her hand had made. They were just little bits of
movement but they seemed to Aimee like great leaps.

   With her limited hearing she tried to listen for any noises that might mean people were around, footsteps in the sand, children shouting, or dogs barking – that would be great, they’d be bound to sniff her out! But all she could hear was the sound of waves getting closer. And then another sound came to her, one she didn’t recognise at first because she’d never heard one so close up before. A gull had landed so very close by that she felt the draught from its wings on the top of her head.

   The gull walked in circles around Aimee’s head, investigating what the landslip had brought… and then to her horror it began to peck. 

Aimee screamed in her mind but could get no more than a whimper out of her mouth. Her left hand grasped and scraped more and more frantically, getting extra movement to her arm, but not enough to help. Pain seared through her head as the gull’s sharp beak tore into her scalp and pulled at her mud soaked, brown hair.

   Her fingers again pushed forward into the earth, given more power now by the pain and fear the gull had created. Then they touched something that blocked their way, something smooth…and warm. She scratched around its outline, trying to get a hold on it to pull it away while the gull again pecked and this time tore open a small flap of flesh on Aimee’s head. The pain made her shake as she managed to whimper a stifled, “I want to go home!” before her mind gave up and she lost consciousness.

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!