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


28. Running into Danger

After Coldred and Seward had left, Steven and Georgia ordered dinner from the bar in the pub and were now sitting on the bed going over what the two men from MI6 had told them. Georgia couldn’t believe that it was actually possible for humans to be a source of protein for these alien creatures to feed on. More incredible was the simple fact that an alien bacteria had developed freely on the planet into a living creature and was surviving. She thought back to what Seward had said:

'Mankind has not had a predator since the age of dinosaurs. Until now.’

'We must act quickly,’ Steven had said to the two men who didn’t seem to feel the urgency that he did. ‘People need to be warned.’

'As we already said, mass vaccination will be used to prevent infection from the bacteria. But, the unknown part is what to do once they reach the creature stage.’

‘I already have some of my team working on the creature Miss Brown brought to us,’ informed Coldred. ‘We are trying to develop some form of equipment that emits ultra violet light, as well as chemical weapons but it’s still early days.’

‘We also don’t know how the creature will change as it develops and grows. It could quickly adapt to any weapons that we might use on it, which would make them useless. At the moment we are resorting to conventional equipment such as guns and incendiary weapons. But the biggest challenge we face is that we don’t know how many creatures actually exist. At the rate of growth we saw in the laboratory there could already be hundreds if not thousands in this area alone.'

'How can we find them?', Steven had asked.

'They don’t appear to be warm-blooded animals so they won’t show up on any heat-sensitive cameras. We have to physically look for them with our eyes, but we can’t bring in the army to do it. We would have to evacuate the whole village and prevent anyone coming in or out whilst we search. Unfortunately, this would create too much publicity and media attention. Once again we need to do things discretely to prevent panic and chaos.' Seward paused, ‘your role in this has now changed. We want you and Miss Brown to start searching for the creatures. We will give you weapons and additional boxes of antibiotics.' He laid a black case onto the desk, flicked the metal clasps and showed them two hand-guns embedded within a shaped foam interior, together with several additional ammunition clips and two boxes of antibiotics.

'But, Sir, I wouldn’t know where to start looking?', protested Steven.

'The arm that was found has been identified as being from a security guard that went missing from one of the factories up river, so start there. Locate the biggest concentrations of creatures and we can send in a small team of soldiers to exterminate them.’

‘What does Sir Adam think?’, asked Steven who suddenly noticed that his superior hadn’t joined the other two men on their trip from London.

There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as the two men looked at each other.

‘Sir Adam’s body was pulled out of the Thames this morning. He drowned,’ Seward explained. ‘He was seen walking across Tower Bridge last night and an anonymous witness rang the Metropolitan Police saying they saw a man jump.’

Steven was stunned. He hadn’t thought that Sir Adam was the sort of person who would have taken his own life. Especially now that alien life had been found on the planet, something he had been searching for his whole life and was as desperate to discover real evidence as Steven was. Something didn’t seem quite right. He recalled his commanders warning about not trusting the other two men when they had walked to the secret meeting beneath MI6 and wondered if they had anything to do with his unexpected death.

As they sat on the bed picking at the food in front of them, neither of them feeling particularly hungry, their thoughts were interrupted by a frantic screaming from the front of the building. Steven jumped up and went over to the window but couldn’t see anyone. As he scanned up and down the road he noticed dark shapes moving in the sky, diving at random intervals towards the ground.

Georgia,’ Steven said nervously, ‘come and look.’

As she came to join Steven at the window, someone from the bar had walked out onto the green to see where the scream came from. As he stood looking around him, he failed to notice a black skeletal creature swoop down and grasp his shoulders with the hooked claws that sank deep into his flesh. The man’s scream was soon muffled by the black figure as it folded itself around the man’s head to begin the process of digesting.

‘It’s one of the creatures,’ Georgia stuttered in disbelief.

‘We have to do something,’ said Steven as he took a gun from the case that Seward had given him. The other gun, cartridges and antibiotics, he stuffed into Georgia’s bag and swung it over his shoulder.

‘Come on,’ he said, trying to encourage Georgia to move from the spot she seemed stuck to, ‘apart from us no one else knows about the creatures and the danger we’re all in. We have to help them.’

She had never felt as insecure as she had done in the last two days and was glad to have Steven to talk to, but what she had just seen terrified her so much that she wanted to close the curtains and try to forget what she was involved in. Steven pushed her coat into her hand and pulled her away from the window.

As they walked down to the bar area, Steven had his gun ready in case one of the creatures had entered the building, but round every corner they found no creatures or humans. The bar was empty and the only thing they could hear was the gentle squeak of the metal sign hanging above the front door outside as it rocked in the breeze.

Georgia held tightly onto Steven’s hand as they walked towards the door.

‘Come on,’ Steven said, breaking the silence. Georgia gave a little jump.

He pushed gently on the door until it opened just a little before daring to open it further. At first all he could see was the grass in front of the pub as well as Georgia’s now familiar black car but there was so much about the scene that didn’t look right. He could count at least two cars that had crashed into each other, one engine still smoking, the other completely crumpled. There were muddy tyre marks scarring the grass and some plants and flowers that had been uprooted were now spread across the road. For as far as he could see there was chaos and destruction.

He looked as much as he could up and down the road checking for creatures, as well as towards the top of the building, but there were none he could see except for some shadows in the distance darting erratically in the sky.

As Steven pushed the door open some more, it hit against something.

Looking around the door he could see that one of the hanging baskets that had been fixed to the wall above the front of the building must have fallen down and was now preventing the door from fully opening. Steven cautiously squeezed himself through the opening and checked once again in all directions before stepping out of the pub. He then moved the basket from behind the door so that he could open it fully to allow Georgia to follow, staying as close to Steven as she could.

Walking onto the mounded grass in front of the pub gave him a good vantage point to look from. In every direction there seemed to be something out of place. Trees had been knocked down or were bent at peculiar angles. House windows were smashed. In the distance he could hear more screams and could see lights being turned on in house windows as curious people looked out to see where the noise was coming from.

Some spots of rain began to fall, but nothing would wash away the scene around them. A storm was brewing and the air felt electric and alive.

Steven ran over to the nearest car that had crashed or been left abandoned and looked through the smashed window. There was no one sitting behind the driver’s wheel, just a single shoe resting on the seat. He noticed a certain amount of sticky liquid that had dripped from the roof onto the ground. There were also two long scratches running down the length of the roof and above where the driver should have been the metal of the roof had been prized open like the lid from a can of beans.

‘Look at this!’, Steven shouted across to Georgia who seemed to have been glued to the pavement in front of the pub door. He had now leant closer to the car and was loosening something from between two pieces of metal around the roof.

He walked over to show Georgia.

‘It must be a claw from one of the creatures. Coldred was right, the one that you took to London this morning was just a baby; they’ve developed into something a lot bigger and deadlier,’ he said showing her what was in his hand. It was about as long as his little finger and curved and pointed. At the thicker end it was untidy and ragged like it had been pulled out of something.

‘What if they come back?’, Georgia asked as she continued to look around her for any more creatures.

‘Look over there!’, Steven pointed excitedly towards a figure he could see sitting inside one of the cars further up the road.

‘Hello!’ he shouted as he casually jogged down the road. As he got nearer to the car, he could hear the gentle hum of the engine running.

‘Hello,’ he tried again, ‘are you alright?’ The person sitting in the driver’s seat didn’t move. Her hands were gripped around the steering wheel. Now that he was nearer to the car, Steven could see that although the person’s eyes were staring straight ahead of her; she wasn’t blinking. He walked around to the driver’s side of the car and realised that the lady was probably dead from the look of her pale white skin and blue lips.

Steven tried the door handle, but it was locked. Looking around him he found a brick on the road that must have become loose from the impact of a car against a small stone wall and used it to break the window. He then reached in, unlocked the door from the inside, took the keys out of the ignition and placed his fingers on the lady’s neck. He waited for several seconds but could not feel the faintest beat of a pulse.

‘Is she dead?’, asked Georgia reluctantly.

‘Yes. Probably had a heart attack out of fear. Look how her hands are gripped around the steering wheel.’

Suddenly the night air was shattered by an explosion near to them. A jumble of black skin fell from the sky and landed on the roof of the car they were looking in making Georgia shriek with surprise. Steven instinctively looked up for other creatures before turning to where the explosion came from.

A man was now approaching them from within the wooded area on the other side of the road. He had a green waxed jacket on and some thick sturdy walking boots, but most menacingly of all, the smoking barrel of a shotgun was pointing in their direction.

‘You shouldn’t be out on the streets. Those things are everywhere,’ as he said it he had walked to within a few feet of Steven and Georgia. ‘You better get under cover and quickly, the sound of gunfire could make them curious. There are others coming this way.’ He swung his shotgun up into the sky, using it to point at some more black shadows that were now flapping their way towards them.

A creature landed on the pavement beside the car, Georgia screamed and together all three of them backed away towards the other side of the road. More shot flew from the barrel of the man’s gun exploding a hole in the body of the creature.

‘Into the wood. The trees will give us cover.’

As the gun fire echoed across the sky, they turned and ran into the woodland and away from the creatures that now descended on the crashed car, feeding on the bodies of the two other creatures as well as the dead woman at the wheel.

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