Is it possible to do the impossible...with a time limit?


2. The Phynnian Family

"Beatrice! Silas! Emma! It's time to go!"

Kirsty Phynnian's sonorous voice rang out, slicing through the former silence like a knife through cheese.

It was the 15th August, 2004, and the Phynnian family was visiting London on holiday. Kirsty was the only member of the family who had been looking forward to the trip across the North Atlantic Ocean, from New York to London. However, she had managed to persuade her husband, Oscar Phynnian, that he wanted to return to the country they both grew up in...England. Of course, they weren't leaving Emma, a twenty-four year old girl, Silas, a nineteen year old boy, and Beatrice, a sixteen year old girl, on there own at home for weeks on end, with three dogs, three horses, a cat, a rabbit and three guinea pigs to look after. So, the three youngest members of the family were going to London, even though they would rather, as Silas put it, "hang by our toes over a vat of boiling oil".

Kirsty was a teacher at an extremely posh school in the center of New York. It was a private school, but thousands of children from ages two to eighteen attended it. Her salary, as the headmistress of the largest school in and around New York, was enormous; she was paid almost 1440299.81 dollars per week, or, as she preferred to say, 1 million pounds. She was organized, stubborn and very busy, but she always seemed to pull time from the seams of the universe, to go out on voyages around the world with her family.

Oscar was a bank manager, and a very rich one, for that matter. However, he was also passive, lazy and easily-annoyed. He wasn't happy about the holiday, but he was easy to persuade, as one of the many things he didn't do was stand up for his own opinions.

Emma was at university, studying for a PhD in Theology. She spent her holiday time either working, on her phone, moaning at the rest of the family, or out with friends till midnight. On most days, her family only saw her at breakfast, sometimes lunch, and tea, and she often took her meals upstairs, to her room on the second floor of the family's four-floor mansion. Other than that, she spent all of her time in the university campus, further towards the outer suburbs of New York.

Silas had just started at the same university as Emma, but, unlike Emma, he spent more time with the family. He was working for a degree in Music. He played the tuba, which was kept in a case that was almost as big as he was.

Beatrice, the youngest, had just started at college, so almost always felt lonely, as she only had her older siblings' company on holidays, and was on her own with her parents, who largely ignored her, the rest of the time. She played piccolo, flute, and piano, but most of the time, she preferred to read books. Real books, not electronic books. She spent a lot of time going for walks into town, in the hope of seeing someone to talk to, being so lonely at home.

A chorus of groans was heard in response to Kirsty's call. However, it was soon followed by the sound of elephant-like footsteps as the 'children' came downstairs.

The next sounds to be heard were the expected complaints of: "Mum, do we really have to go?", "Why do we have to go?", and "Can't I go and stay at Phoebe's house? We had plans!", to name only a few.

Fifteen minutes later, everyone was in the car, which had been bought the day before; it was brand new, with a personalized number plate (BS16 EKO), and leather seats, which had heating for in the winter. Beatrice, being the youngest, was forced to sit in the middle seat, so was angry with both her siblings.

Unable to put an end to the endless arguments, Oscar started driving.

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