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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32. One Way Out

As the night progressed, the thuds and bangs of the creatures trying to get into the Ice House continued. So far the entrance door with its rusty lock had managed to hold up.

‘How are we going to get out of here?’, asked Steven from inside the darkness.

He could hear his two companions breathing from either side of him and could tell which was which by sniffing the air around him; the sweet fragrant perfume of Georgia that he had got used to during the last couple of days was on his left, whilst on the right, there was a heavier smell of Tracker that reminded Steven of the smell of overly dry earth after a shower of rain.

‘I’m not sure,’ replied Tracker after a while, ‘but that door might not stay secure for too much longer. They're certainly persistent creatures.’

‘If this old building is built of bricks, couldn't we try taking some of them out and escape through the roof?’ Georgia suggested, her voice echoing inside the enclosed chamber.

‘If the creatures are still outside they would soon be able to jump onto the roof and get into the Ice House through the hole we’re trying to create before we had a chance to get out, ' he paused, ‘No. The only way out is through the front door.’

Except for the bangs outside, there was a peaceful silence inside the darkened building but sitting on the floor where they were was starting to make them feel quite cold. Without warning a light appeared from the dark casting a yellow glow around the chamber, Tracker had lit a match and was trying to ignite the Storm Lamp. The sudden change of light caused them all to squint and screw their eyes up but they soon adjusted to the change from the darkness.

‘What do you think we should do?’, asked Steven.

‘We need to head towards Butterwick Hall. It’s not far from here, just a short walk from the lake. It would probably take about three minutes walking, but maybe just one minute if we ran. When we get inside, there are food stores as well as more weapons.’

‘Is it secure?’

‘It should be. It’s an old house, so all the windows are made up of small leaded squares, the doors are thick wooden ones, reinforced with steel hinges and studs. It’s not a fortress but it’s better than being in here,’ Tracker said. ‘What’s in your bag?’, he added addressing Georgia.

She unzipped the bag and emptied the contents onto the floor at their feet. As well as the other handgun, additional ammunition and boxes of antibiotics, there was her purse, some test tube shaped sample bottles, car keys and a make up bag.

‘Where’s your car?’, asked Tracker.

‘Not far from where you saw us. It’s parked outside the Fox and Hound Pub in the village,’ she replied.

Tracker picked the make up bag off the floor and looked inside it. He pulled a travel size aerosol deodorant can out of the bag and shook it close to his ear so that he could hear how much was left inside. It seemed to Tracker that it was a fairly new can considering the weight of it.

‘How accurate are you at shooting?', he asked Steven, 'Have you ever been clay pigeon shooting?’

‘No, but I'm fairly good.’

‘This aerosol can could be our way out of here. Aerosols are made of compressed air and contain gases that burn and explode easily. If we threw the can outside and shot it, the explosion may injure a few of the creatures, but the main effect would be shock and that might just give us enough time to get out of here and run for the main house.’

‘But we would have to open the entrance door to do it,’ said Steven. ‘We’d only get one chance. Maybe you should take the shot at the can rather than me,’ he told Tracker, unsure in his own ability with the gun.

‘I’m happy to take the shot, but I will need your gun to do it. You would need to cover me with the shotgun.’ Tracker loaded the last two shots into his shotgun and clicked the barrels back into place.

Georgia packed everything back into her bag including the additional cases of bullets for Steven's gun and firmly pulled the straps over both shoulders.

‘Well, there’s no time like the present,’ said Tracker cheerfully.

Georgia took the lamp from Tracker whilst he found the keys again and unlocked the inner door to the chamber. Although they could still hear the scratching at the outer door and knew that the smaller chamber between the two doors would be safe, they still cautiously opened the door by a small crack, guns at the ready and checked that it was secure before moving into the section behind the outer door. They could see that splinters of wood had been scratched away from the sides as well as the base of the door and the dark shadows of the creatures moving around outside could be seen silhouetted against the night. Georgia placed the lamp on the floor and took the bunch of keys from Tracker. He held one of the keys out separately to the others so that she knew which one was the key to the outer door. The three of them moved slowly towards the door trying not to be put off by the sound of the claws scratching or the wet rasping breath that was coming from the other side.

‘We all need to be ready to protect ourselves from the explosion so we need to keep pressed up against this door to prevent the blast from pushing it in,’ whispered Tracker to the other two who nodded. Georgia carefully and quietly slid the key into the keyhole ready to turn it when the time was right. Tracker had now begun examining the holes that had been made around the door, one of which, below a hinge, was big enough for him to shoot through. At the base of the door, chunks of wood had splintered and been torn away. He reached down to place the aerosol can on the floor just on the inside of the door but lined up with the hole. He jumped back with fright as long clawed fingers poked in under the door towards the can and began scratching two deep lines into the dry ground. Tracker stamped his heavy booted foot down onto the fingers which resulted in a high pitched scream from the creature at the door, but the fingers quickly got pulled back. Tracker put the can nearer to the hole then kicked it through with the toe of his boot. He quickly then looked out of the hole near the hinge and raised the gun so that he could shoot it, but couldn’t see where it had gone. Some of the creatures had now moved away from the door and over to the right hand side of the path distracted and drawn towards the can.

‘I can’t get a clear shot at the can,’ he whispered to the others. Georgia’s hand was held tightly around the door key ready to turn whilst Steven held the shotgun in both hands, his back pressed firmly against the door.

The sound of bricks falling behind them echoed from inside the large chamber of the Ice House near to where they had been sitting.

‘We have to hurry!’, whispered Georgia, ‘they must be starting to break through the roof!’

‘Can you see the aerosol yet?’, Steven asked Tracker impatiently as the sound of a larger number of bricks crashed into the bottom of the chamber.

Feeling the need for urgency, Tracker decided to create a diversion to move some of the creatures away from the can so that he could see it to shoot it clearly. He carefully looked straight down the barrel of the gun and aimed it at a creature that was on the outside of the gathering of creatures. As he pulled the trigger and released a bullet into the head of the creature, the bang of the gun was also mixed with the heavy thud of a creature as it jumped down from the hole in the roof behind them and landed at the bottom of the deeper chamber of the ice house. It wouldn’t take long for it to climb out and attack them from within. Outside the creature that had been shot had fallen to the floor and the rest of the group had instinctively flown away like a flock of frightened birds. By the side of the dead creature Tracker could now see the violet purple coloured canister of deodorant lying on the ground. As it had spun to rest, it pointed away from the Ice House, so the most that he could see was the base of it and a small amount of one of the sides. He knew that the creatures wouldn’t have flown far away and were probably waiting in a tree or further along the path. They wouldn’t stand a chance if they tried to run for the house without the element of surprise. If he was going to shoot the can, it would have no effect if the creatures were at a safe distance. He needed to tempt them back before the one that had now got into the chamber came through and attacked them from inside. Tracker thought quickly.

‘Use that key and lock the inner door,’ he instructed to Georgia.

‘But we’ll be trapped between these two doors!’

‘Do it and do it quick! It sounds like there's a creature in the chamber and it will soon be making its way towards us. I’m not ready to be breakfast just yet!’

Georgia stepped away from the door and slotted the key into the inner door and locked it. They were now sandwiched between two wooden doors with creatures on both sides.

‘Take off your shirt,’ Tracker said to Steven. 'We need to tempt them back so that the explosion from the can will be effective.’

Steven nodded, understanding that the blood on his shirt would draw the creatures back towards the Ice House entrance. He pulled it over his head and wiped it on his chest, although the blood had now started to clot it still left streaks of red across the material.

‘The creature from the chamber is right behind this door,’ said Georgia who was still standing next to the inner door, ‘I can hear it breathing against the wood.’

‘Get ready to open the door,’ Tracker indicated the main entrance door to Georgia, ‘just enough so Steven can throw the shirt out, but close and lock it immediately.’

Georgia moved towards the outer door. She knew that this was the only way that they could escape from the Ice House and she knew what waited for them outside. Her hand hesitated on the key inside the lock; part of her didn’t dare unlock it. Her hand felt rigid and solid like she didn’t have any control over it. She took a deep breath and began twisting the key taking every bit of strength she could find. The rusty metal lock slid out of the frame and the weight of the thick wooden door made it swing slightly towards them. Steven rolled up his shirt and threw it towards the left side of the path so that it wasn’t in front of the aerosol can. Georgia then pushed the door back into its frame and locked it again. Almost immediately three creatures dived onto the shirt from the roof of the Ice House, followed by several more from the sky. Steven picked up the shotgun he had laid on the floor. There was now scratching coming from the other side of the inner door.

‘Ready?’, said Tracker to the other two. He had been pointing the gun through the gap under the hinge of the door for several minutes so far, but now that the time was upon him, he started to question whether or not he would be able to shoot the small canister. All those times as a child that he had missed clay pigeons when out shooting with his father came flooding back to him. He felt like he was a skinny uncoordinated teenager once again, scared of being an embarrassment to his father in front of his friends. Tracker held the gun firmly in the palm of his hand and pulled the trigger back. The bullet spun out of the barrel and almost immediately an explosion ripped through the air outside causing the door to rattle in its frame.

Georgia unlocked the door once again and they sprang out into the open air. A blackened mark now showed where the can had been on the path and a lot of the gravel had been forced away from the explosion. The bodies of some of the creatures that had been nearest to the can lay on the path, whilst others seemed to be wounded and were limping or rolling on the ground. Georgia looked around her nervously whilst following Tracker and Steven as they ran away from the Ice House. Although the explosion had given them the opportunity to get out of the Ice House, it didn’t take the creatures long to regroup and Georgia could see that some of the creatures that were furthest from the blast were starting to flap their wings and lift off the ground ready to pursue them.

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