The Moon Stealers and the Quest for the Silver Bough

The Yorkshire town of Parsley Bottom has a problem…

Peter Crisp, a boy with an unusual gift of being able to see things that others cannot, goes missing after spending the night in a graveyard. Two of Peter's school friends, join forces with a Knight of King Arthur to attempt to find him but come across some mysterious engravings which propel them on an adventure beyond their imagination.

Meanwhile MI6 operative Steven Knight is sent from London to investigate a meteor landing site, but Steven is advised by his own boss not to trust the puppeteers that hold the strings to his investigation. Within the core of the meteor is an alien bacteria that evolves at an alarming rate that not only puts Steven's life at risk, but the entire human race.

By unravelling ancient codes and riddles the children journey within the bowels of Edinburgh Castle as they attempt to find the key to Peter’s disappearance. The children not only need to save Peter, they need to save the world while they’re at

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14. A Gruesome Discovery

After a quick visit to the local hardware store out of town, Steven and Georgia made their way to the lay-by that Mr McRae had mentioned. They pulled off the main road and onto a chalky surface that was roughly marked out in parking spaces. Georgia parked the car in a cloud of dust that had been kicked up by the tyres, beside two other cars that were already there. Beyond the wooden fence that separated the road from the grass and trees, a sign directed walkers across different public footpaths.

Opening the boot of the car Steven reached in and removed the metal detector from its packaging as well as a shiny new spade. Georgia lifted out a small square canvas box and lengthened the wide fabric strap so that she could carry it on her shoulder, then unfolded a map. Today Georgia had changed the brown suit for something more practical and wore a fleece and jeans together with a pair of trainers.

‘Ready?’ asked Steven.

As they walked through an opening in the fence and onto a well worn track which led into the woodland, Steven noticed a fourth car that crept slowly into the car park, there was something familiar about the driver and the suit he was wearing didn’t look practical for walking or sightseeing. They crossed the river via a wooden bridge with no handrails; the thick bulrushes reached up high on both sides, hiding the water. A couple of serious walkers wearing boots and backpacks strode energetically in the opposite direction as they followed the path deeper into the woods to the land behind Mr McRae’s property.

Once they were there, they sat on a fallen tree trunk and began to plan their project.

‘So, we are here,’ said Georgia pointing to an area on the map. She marked a small cross onto the map with a red pen. ‘If we walk through the woodland and start here,’ she pointed to another spot and made a second cross, ‘that is the boundary of the wood where it meets Mr McRae’s land. If you swing the metal detector from side to side as you walk you should be able to cover a width of at least a meter.’

They picked their way off the footpath and into woodland that had not been trampled down by the heavy boots of numerous walkers. The small branches of trees also appeared to grow lower here and they would often have to duck slightly or snap them off to make their way through.

Georgia carefully navigated their way by constantly referring to her map as well as a small compass she carried in the palm of her hand. Once they had arrived at the point where the second cross was on Georgia’s map, Steven turned the metal detector on and began walking in a straight line. He swept the metal detector in front of him from one side to the other under the watchful eye of Georgia and her map, making sure that he continued in the right direction.

Occasionally a high pitched squeal would cut through the gentle hum made by the metal detector as it passed over a metallic object, but it uncovered nothing more significant than an old tin can or a few coins. Each time Steven walked up and down, Georgia marked it on the map and by the end of two hours they had found two other meteorites similar in size to the ones from Mr McRae’s garden. They carefully stored them inside Georgia’s canvas bag then decided to try a different section of woodland beside the river.

Once again they began searching in a methodical way, all the time referring back to the map. Whilst Steven started walking along the river edge swinging the detector from side to side, Georgia removed two clear plastic sample tubes from her bag and took them down to the river to take some water for testing. She knelt down at the edge of the river bank and leant forward. The thickness of the reeds and bulrushes in front of her hid the water below so she had to hold them apart with her other hand like she was parting hair. The water quickly filled the plastic tube. She tightly screwed the top on then held it up to the sky, looking at the little bits floating in the green coloured water.

She stood up and checked on Steven’s progress before moving further up the river to take a second sample. As she parted the reeds, she saw what looked like a soggy bundle of clothes slightly further out that must have become caught up in the reeds against the flow of water. She took her water sample as before then walked back towards the nearest tree and snapped a branch from it. Using the branch she reached out over the water and managed to hook it onto the bundle of clothes then leant backwards and began pulling using all of her body weight against the resistance of the wet clothes. Suddenly the clothing came away from the reeds and Georgia slipped backwards falling onto her back.

Amongst the reeds she was now staring at something more than just clothes.

A disfigured hand reached out of the water.

At first she was confused. The hand looked larger than she thought it should do, almost like it had sucked in lots of the river water and Georgia thought for a short moment that it was not real at all. The skin appeared white and waxy, but there were patches of it missing which revealed the grey-brown flesh beneath the skin. The edges of these missing patches were uneven and thicker, almost like it had been melted away to the fleshy meat beneath. As an operative assistant Georgia had never actually seen a dead body before, she was much more used to writing reports and doing research.

‘Steven!’ She said in a broken voice as she tried to take deep breaths of air into her lungs. She couldn’t help but keep staring at the hand and its ghostly white fingernails. It grasped at the air, fixed in a disfigured grip like the hooked talons of an eagle clawing at its prey.

‘Steven!’ Georgia said once again more desperately without looking round.

‘What is it?’ he asked casually as he strolled up beside her. ‘Have you found another meteorite?’

Georgia pointed a shaking finger towards the river. Steven followed the direction she was pointing in and saw the hand reaching out of the water. A cold shiver went through his body followed by a wave of sickness as his stomach tightened, but his mind stayed alert and soon instructed his body what it needed to do. He pulled a mobile phone from his pocket and called the police immediately, then helped Georgia onto her feet and slowly moved her further up the bank out of sight of the hand. He sat down closely next to Georgia, put his arm around her still shaking shoulders and waited for the police to arrive.

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