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


27. Attack on Parsley Bottom

The hole beneath Parsley Bottom church began nearest to the river but extended into a maze of tunnels that went deep underneath the foundations of the church. Every now and then the tunnels opened out into large caverns that river water also seeped into, cascading down the walls into a muddy pool of water at the base. The caverns smelt of mould and metal. If anyone had actually tried to explore the tunnels, they would find that the smell made their eyes water and their breathing difficult, as well as having pools of Nitric acid to avoid. There was a constant dripping sound from above, but not from rain-water draining through the soil and rocks but from a yellow slimy liquid that dripped from the ceiling. On the ceiling black shadows hung upside down like bats in a cave holding on by their claw-like toes gripped around the deep roots of trees.

The network of tunnels and caves was becoming overcrowded and the growing that the creatures had done so far had used up all of their energy reserves leaving them hungry and restless. A primal instinct instructed them to leave the nest in search of food tonight. The first dark shadow pulled itself through the hole, its body covered in a protective frothy slime, and lay on the grass beneath a gravestone still and quiet. Then a sucking noise rattled from the breathing holes around its body as it pulled in air. A black leathery membrane slid up revealing a clouded eye that twitched rapidly as it took in the surroundings. It slowly pulled itself up into a kneeling position then unexpectedly thrust a skeletal black hand out to pierce the soft belly of a rat that had cowered against a mossy stone tomb. The rat wriggled, trying to work itself free from the yellow hooked nail it was skewered on. The black creature lifted the rat closer to its eye, intrigued as well as amused by the little animal, but the hunter in it knew that this animal was a source of food. It pushed the rat into its circular mouth that was rimmed with small hook like teeth then let out a breathy screech that cut through the night air like a fingernail being pulled down a blackboard.

A second and then a third creature followed.

Before long the graveyard was covered with a small army of identical creatures, black and leathery and covered with a silver-like slime.

As some of the creatures began to experiment with walking and coordination, they began to lurch in the direction of some small cottages further upriver from the graveyard.

Others waited with their arms outstretched allowing the fragile skin that joined their arms to their bodies time to dry, like a grotesque butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Eventually they began beating their arms, slowly at first, feeling the resistance of the wind, but then faster until their bodies began to lift gently off the ground. Eventually they began to feel the strength in their arms and they flew towards the town.

As it was early evening, there were still some people around Parsley Bottom, walking home from the pub or a meal out. Tom and his girlfriend, Emma, were sitting on a wooden bench facing the park watching their friends play on the swings and slides; it was the only chance the teenagers got to play on them once all the little children had gone home. Tom laughed loudly as his friend nearly fell off the swing as it arced high into the air. Emma rested her head gently on Tom’s shoulder and looked up into the night sky. The swings seemed to be making a lot more squeaking tonight than normal, or so she thought.

Suddenly Emma sat upright with a confused look on her face, squinting as she tried to examine the sky more closely.

‘What is it?’, asked Tom.

‘Nothing. Probably just a bat,’ replied Emma, who dismissed the shape she had seen in the sky.

Neither of them noticed the dark creatures that swept down from above to pluck them effortlessly off the bench. Tom managed to hold onto the arm of the bench as he was being dragged rapidly upwards into the sky, but its weight made him drop it to the ground. It was only then that his friends looked over to where Tom and Emma had been sitting and saw the bench overturned and empty. But they didn’t have any time to wonder where their friends had gone as they quickly became the next victims of the night.

Slowly, the children’s swings in the park squeaked backwards and forwards until they came to a stand still all on their own, the seats empty.

In another part of town two women stumbled out of a restaurant, arm in arm and laughing loudly. They began to walk down a narrow road that was enclosed on both sides by houses and only seemed wide enough for one car to drive down. Pippa had gone out that night to celebrate her birthday with a few friends, one of which, Beth, was now helping to take her home. The road widened and revealed a small square with parking down the centre. Beth reached inside a small handbag, took her car keys out and pressed the central locking button on the key fob. The orange hazard lights flashed and the doors unlocked. Beth opened her door ready to get in but then noticed that Pippa had fallen to the ground and was now sitting on the floor clutching her ankle.

‘What are you doing there?’, shouted Beth as she left the car and walked over to her friend.

‘I’ve broken the heel of my shoe.’ Pippa pointed over to a small grate at the side of the road for draining the water away. The narrow heel on her shoe was wedged in the gap between two of the metal bars. 'I think I might have twisted my ankle.'

All of their movements were being watched with some curiosity from above by creatures that until now were unfamiliar with humans, but they recognised an animal when it was vulnerable and they knew that she could not run and would make an easy target. Whilst Beth had gone to help her friend, several of the creatures had been curious about the car, some had gone underneath it whilst another had entered through Beth’s open door.

‘Come on,’ encouraged Beth as she helped lift Pippa onto her good foot so that she could hop slowly towards the car.

Once the two girls had got themselves inside the car, the dark shadow struck, desperately consuming the source of meat. Up until now it had used a lot of energy to grow and evolve; now it needed to replace what it had used. The car shook from side to side; Beth and Pippa had no chance of escape from the unexpected attack.

All through the night the creatures feasted on any animal they came across; dogs, cats, cows, sheep and humans, they didn’t mind which,  it was just a source of food to them. Hundreds of creatures swamped Parsley Bottom during the night. People disappeared without a trace and homes with open windows were raided leaving nothing more than a slimy mess.

The assault on Parsley Bottom was just a small part of what happened across the rest of England on the same night. A new predator was lurking in the sky, fixed on an unchanging mission to feed its body and survive.

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