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Everything posted by Salix

  1. Petra had been listening quietly to the story that Hannah had told. She had to physically take a grip on the furniture nearest to her to stop herself dashing out of the house when she learned that her boys were still alive, and that there was a slim possibility that they were waiting for her at home. As her hands locked in a white knuckle death grip on the back of a chair, conflicting emotions raced through her thoughts, the desire to get home as quickly as possible was counterbalanced by desire to learn all that she could from Hannah. Eventually the poor woman became exhausted from the efforts of telling her story, and answering as best as she could the various questions that had been asked. At Mak’s urging they left the woman to sleep in peace and moved to the living room. Petra was only half listening to the groups discussions, it was only when Micah mentioned that he intended to go looking for any people that may have successfully made the ‘slide’ back home that her mind fully focused on what was being said. “Micah, if you like I will accompany you as far as village that you were originally staying at, after that I am going home to wait for my boys”. She caught Mak’s eye, she did feel guilty at leaving the others, but she reasoned that they would also manage very well without her. “Sorry Mak I…..I have to go home. If there is even the remotest of possibilities that the boys have returned then I have to be there for them”. “Would you mind if we took one of the walky-talkies with us? It would probably be prudent to keep in touch, and if Mak does find anyone then he can warn you of their arrival”.
  2. Petra stayed to continue discussions with Emily, when Erin and Mich left to go and start work in the garden. It briefly crossed her mind to mention to Erin and Mich that perhaps they should hold off starting work digging in the garden until they had finished the planning, but she quickly decided that letting them go and do some hard physical work would be a good way for them to get rid of any built up nerves and frustrations. The discussions and sketch plans for the gardens progressed, with various ideas and layouts being considered. As the surrounding farms and fields could be used to grow larger expanses of crops or turned into orchards, Petra proposed that the gardens be set out and cultivated along the lines of a Victorian Kitchen Gardens, with a set of plots for vegetables, herbs, fruits and composting; once one garden had been set up the layout could be copied and extended easily enough into the neighbouring gardens, while still keeping to an ordered geometric plan. They also discussed the use of, and the locations for polytunnels, for propagation and the growing of more heat/humid loving fruits and vegetables, and the possibility of creating a large fish pond near by, which could provide a ready supply of fresh fish for the group, Petra recalled the idea from a history project the boys had done in school, where they learned about the lives of Monks and Monastery life. They also discussed the urgent need to try and find any remaining poultry and other livestock. Emily briefly related the story of the large cat she and James had encountered, which underlined the fact that the group needed to find and house, any remaining animals before they fell pray to any ‘predators’, or before the possibly penned up animals succumbed to starvation. Similarly they established it would be a good idea to visit any near by Garden Centres, and bring back any vegetable seedlings and fruit trees, before they too died from neglect. A comprehensive check through the telephone directory, produced list of local suppliers of building materials, Garden Centres, Live Stock suppliers and farms that could prove to be worth a visit, and a list of suggestion of items to obtain from the various locations.
  3. In reply to Erin and Emily’s question regarding tools Petra volunteered “Wisperlee and I managed to visit a hardware shop while we were travelling back, we managed to find a few shovels, spades, pick axes etc and some power tools that may be useful, they are still in the back of the Land Rover “. Nodding at Mich’s comment about adding compost and things to the soil “There should be some plants in the garden, or the neighbouring gardens, that will give us a clue about the soil type in this area, for example azaleas like a more acidic soil. We can always build raised planting beds for the plants and crops that prefer other soil types.” “It would probably be a good idea to visit the neighbouring gardens, and then draw out some kind of plan, mark out where the planting beds should be, composting areas etc, before we start any actual digging. Then we can plan trips to garden centres to get plants and equipment”.
  4. Petra bit her tongue as she listened to Micah. In her opinion his examples just served to highlight how ‘unaware’ humans were, waltzing about in their arrogance, presuming that they were the superior intellect on the planet. Whatever level of intelligence these new creatures possessed, they had proved that they could gain access to the house with relative ease. “Erin” Petra tried to keep her voice calm and reasonable, “I agree with Wisperlee, burying the creature only to dig it up again if a few hours would be a waste of time and effort, not to mention exposing you to a possible unknown danger. Why don’t we pop the creature into a wheelie bin and tie the handles down with these zip ties?” She waved a bunch of zip ties which she had found in one of the kitchen draws while looking for tea spoons. “I noticed earlier when we were pushing the fridge to block the back door, that there were some bins lined up a few feet away from the door, covered in a little shed type structure” presumably the previous occupants of the house didn’t want the inconvenience of walking too far to dispose of their rubbish. “We can remove any rubbish and store the creature in the bin until we are ready to examine it?” “Whatever you all decide to do, Mak will you pause a minute so that we can find some torches? If we are right about the guess that these animals see well in the dark, then maybe we can deter them from coming too close by dazzling them with light, rather then blasting them all to smithereens, and attracting even more attention down upon ourselves”.
  5. Petra listened to the others discussing various options. While she understood the need to secure the house, she wasn’t feeling too keen to be shut in, spending the rest of her life living in a gloomy house, hiding behind boarded up windows, but on the other hand she recognised that they would have to take some kind of precautions. Her gaze drifted back to the creature. It had large forward facing eyes and from rom the countless David Attenborough programs she had watched with the boys, she knew that these facts could indicate that the creature could probably see quite well in the dark, or at least better then humans, and the forward facing eyes indicated that it had evolved to be the predator rather then the prey. Before Mak had a chance to move the creature she spoke up “I agree with Wisperlee, I think it would be prudent to keep the creature in here with us, put it in the freezer for the rest of tonight and then examine it again in the morning. We know nothing about these beings” she waved a hand at the creature resting in the bin bag. “For all we know this could have been ‘their’ revered and beloved leader, who selflessly volunteered to enter the house to make contact with us, and we repaid it by shooting holes in it. I’d imagine that his comrades would be rather upset if we just dumped his/her body outside the door”. “Equally these creatures could be ruthless killing machines. I think it’s safe to say that they posses a high level of intelligence, at least two of them were able to find a way to enter the house without alerting any of us; but we don’t know if the creatures were working together or independently. They could be some kind of hunting dog”. Petra looked at James as she said this, to acknowledge that it was his suggestion. “Which would mean that they may have some kind of pack mentality?” “I think that any way one looks at it, keeping the creature in the house buys us some time, the creatures may not bother us until they have discovered what has happened to their comrade. Or if the creatures operate independently of one another, we should at least take this opportunity to learn as much about them as we can.”
  6. Petra moved with the child as she threw up, crouching down to hold Arwen and making sure that her hair was out of the way, while murmuring soothing and sympathetic noises. She had more experience dealing with sick children then she would ever want to, dealing with her boy’s illnesses as they had grown up, invariably they had managed to contract whatever childhood illness was doing the rounds, be that chickenpox or measles, at the same time so she was well use to being able to multi task. Ripping off a handful of the kitchen roll, she cleaned up Arwen’s face, she then dipped another handful into the bowl of water that was still on the kitchen counter, and mopped the child’s face again, telling her as she did so that she was okay, and that she had nothing to be sorry for. Arwen was very pale, but even as Petra watched, colour began creeping back into her cheeks. Fortunately the child had managed to throw up on the floor, and had managed not to get anything on herself. Petra quickly cleared up the mess, and handed Arwen a drink of water. “Sip that slowly” she warned the child, using a kindly, calming voice. While the Arwen sipped the water Petra set about brewing some tea and coffee, after everything that had happened she thought that it would be unlikely that anyone would be wanting to go back to sleep.
  7. Petra caught Wisperlee’s shake of the head regarding Cujo and shepherded both Arwen and Blackie out into the kitchen. After a quick search she found a large bowl & filled it with slightly warm water; she supervised as Arwen added a dash of disinfectant (the kind that was suitable for putting in baths etc), and then handing the kitchen roll, that had been sitting on the kitchen counter to Arwen to carry, Petra was just about to pick up the bowl when suddenly there was a deafening bang and something came crashing into the kitchen. She, Arwen and Blackie all uttered yelps of alarm. Instinctively Petra quickly pushed Arwen so that she was shielded behind her; the frightened child was clinging to her leg as Petra carefully withdrew the axe on her ‘free’ side, from its pouch on her belt. As the ‘creature’ stopped moving Petra noticed that Micah was standing behind it, his gun still raised and a wild look in his eyes, his hands shaking. Not wanting to spook or surprise the young man Petra kept very still, Arwen was still shielded behind her, and thankfully Blackie had the sense to stand still too. It was only when she heard Ez yell that she was coming around the corner and Micah expression calm as he answer her, that Petra felt it safe to relaxed a little, and let out a breath that she didn’t know she had been holding. The group all watched and listened as Mak examined the creature, and gave his critique on its appearance and physique. Petra had never in her life seen anything similar to the animal that now lay dead on the kitchen floor, it could be some sort of mutant monkey type thing, or as Erin had suggested, something that had escaped from a laboratory. As Petra watched Mak she could feel Arwen move cautiously out from behind her. For a second it crossed Petra’s mind that perhaps the young child should not be exposed to the sight of such a scary looking creature, but Petra quickly dismissed that idea. Arwen was going to be exposed to a lot of new experiences, and possibly hardships, it would be unfair to keep Arwen in ignorance of what they may face. She kept a comforting hand around Arwen as they watched Mak place the creature into a bin-bag.
  8. Petra gave Ez a nod, to acknowledge that she understood the other woman was trusting her with Arwen safety. Taking the child’s hand gently but firmly she helped her stand. “Well Ez is going to help Wisperlee with her feet, see she has some glass in them.” She let Arwen look at Wisperlees injuries so that she could see and understand that while the other woman was hurt, she was not hurt badly. “I was hoping you would help me find a bowl and some kitchen paper and some water, so when Ez and Wisperlee have got all the glass out, they will be able to clean Wisperlee’s feet”. Also you could help me hold Blackie and Cujo and keep them out of the way. At the mention of her name Blackie turned and gave Petra and Arwen a lick on their hands, while wagging her tail. Cujo only had eyes for Wisperlee, waiting for a signal from her that she was okay.
  9. Petra smiled her thanks at Micah for agreeing to help her move the fridge. Just before they pushed it into place, she asked Micah to pause while she checked to make the back door was locked and the cat flap was down, then with a final shove the fridge slid in front of the of the door, effectively blocking it. Micah had just asked if there were any other doors, when she noticed the young man flinch and a look of alarm flick over his face, to be replaced just as quickly with a look of relief. Turning to look in the same direction Petra was relieved when she noticed that it was only one of the kittens prowling. With everyone’ nerves on edge, Petra thought that it would probably be a good idea if all the occupants of the house were accounted for, which included the animals. Scooping up the kitten Petra searched until she found the rest of the cats, who were snuggled up with their mother in the box they had been transported to the house in, obviously Mama cat had taken a liking to the box and deemed it a suitable enclosure for her brood. Popping the adventurous kitten into the box with its siblings, she took a quick headcount to make sure they all the cats were accounted for, including Erin’s kitten. While she was counting cats Whisperlee returned, somehow it appeared that she had managed to get glass into her feet. Ez quickly volunteered to help her remove it, but it was obvious that she was going to be hampered by the child who was still holding onto her. “Arwen” Petra addressed the child in a gentle and she hoped soothing tone. She lifted her hand and gently placed it on Arwen’s back. “My name is Petra, and, well I was wondering if you would help me with something?” Looking at Ez Petra raised an eyebrow questioning if she should continue. Arwen seemed to be in Ez’s care and Petra didn’t want to overstep her mark. She was about to continue speaking when Blackie made her appearance, and started to happily fuss over Petra, licking her hands and pouncing up at her, in her excitement Blackie’s enthusiastically wagging tail tapping against Ez, Arwens and Whisperlee’s legs.
  10. The news that there was a young girl hiding upstairs in a cupboard momentarily surprised Petra (as she hadn’t been with the others to hear that news, and meet Arwen last night). Looking at Ez Petra spoke gently “Perhaps you should go and get her and bring her down stairs with us, whatever was here seems to have gone now, being in the company of others has to be less frightening then hiding away in a cupboard, in the dark, alone”. Petra made sure to inflect her voice upwards at the end of her speach, indicating that what she had said was a suggestion only, and that Ez had the final say on whether or not the child should join them. Mak still looked as white as a sheet. Catching Erin’s eye Petra asked “Erin would you go with Mak to the living room, maybe get him something to drink to calm his nerves? – Heck we could probably all do with a dink to calm our nerve, Petra added quietly. Glancing about the kitchen Petra looked for something that they could use to block the back door with. The kitchen table looked promising, it was a solid looking wooden construction, but even tipped over in its side Petra didn’t think that it would prove to be heavy enough to withstand any blows or shoves against the back door; then she noticed the fridge; it was only being used at the moment to store food, as power was limited, so they wouldn’t have to worry about any food spoiling, but it was also big enough, and probably heavy enough to block off most of the back door, and more importantly the cat flap, and should anything succeed in moving it then they would probably all hear it. “Micah, would you mind helping me move the fridge over to the block the back door?”
  11. The noise turned out to be Wisperlee feeding the dogs, and when the young girl stood up it looked like she had Jaune’s ferret sitting happily in her arms, and was hand feeding it dog munchies. Smiling to herself Petra finished putting away the car cleaning things and went inside the house. Petra’s intention, after she had had a very quick shower, was to go down and have a bite to eat with the others, but she made the mistake of lying down on the bed, just for 5 minutes she told herself. As soon as her head hit the pillow the lack of sleep from previous nights took its toll, and she was out like a light. The next thing she knew she was woken by a scream, and then a few seconds later it sounded like there were a lot of people thudding down the stairs. Cautiously Petra opened the bedroom door to catch a glimpse of Wisperlee dashing past her. Grabbing the belt that held the axes Petra began buckling it about her waist as she moved as quietly as possible down the stairs, and joined the group that was gathered in the kitchen.
  12. Petra had just shut and locked the front door, and watched Blackie wander off to explore the house when a thought struck her ‘It’s probably not a great idea to leave a blood covered truck sitting outside, gawd only know what the smell of blood could attract’. She could hear that some of the others had gathered in one of the rooms, and they were talking, probably bringing each other up to date on the various ‘happenings’. At that moment Petra didn’t think that she could deal with any more news, she felt like she needed some time by herself, so she unlocked the front door, making sure to close it again after herself, and went to examine the truck. There didn’t seem to be too much blood or gore, but the truck could still benefit from a good wash down. Casting about Petra spied an outside tap attached to one of the farm outbuildings, not too far from the house. Further investigations provided her with a hose and a selection of detergents, obviously the previous occupants had used this concreted courtyard area for washing their cars/farm vehicles. The twilight hour was waning by the time Petra had got the truck cleaned. Fortunately Emily, or so Petra guessed, had left the keys for the truck tucked in the windscreen visor, so she was able to move and position the vehicle to get it scrupulously clean. Petra was just hosing down the courtyard area for the 2nd time, she wanted to be quite certain that there was no bloody residue to attract anything’s attention, when she thought she heard a noise.
  13. ((@ Wisperlee, thank you for the bunny hop, and for keeping Petra involved.)) The journey back to the others was uneventful, Cujo and the little black dog were getting along well and they were both soon snoozing, leaving Petra alone with her thoughts. She had hoped to stop off at her home in Hawkingsthorne, and leave some kind of message for her boys, she still had the strong feeling that they were alive and ‘somewhere out there’ and she wanted to let them know that she was still here too, however Wisperlee was setting a fast pace, it was plainly obvious that the younger girl was eager to get back to the others, and Petra though that it would be terribly selfish of her to delay them any further. She consoled herself with the though that she could make the journey home and leave a message another day. She felt her heart lift when they arrived at the farm house, she slowed the Land Rover to give Wisperlee enough time to park her motorcycle next to the vehicles, and take off her helmet. Mak, Erin and Micah were outside too, and while Wisperlee walked across to talk to them, Petra manoeuvred and parked the Land Rover so that the boot was nearest the house, ‘less of a journey to take out all the equipment’ Petra thought. She had just switched off the engine when Wisperlee opened the passenger door, allowing Cujo and the little black dog to jump down. Wisperlee asked "Did you decide on a name for Blackie yet?" before briefly nodding towards the others. "They've had a spooky experience too. Let's head inside?" At Wisperlee’s question Petra though that Blackie was as good as any other name for the little dog, but she felt a shiver of trepidation run though here at the news that the others had had a spooky experience too, but at least she and Wisperlee weren’t the only ones that were ‘jumping at their own shadows – I really do hope that it is only shadows that we are jumping at’ Petra thought. Petra rolled that thought through her mind as she opened the back door of the Rover and dragged out some of the rucksacks that contained the spare clothes they had gathered, the heavier equipment, spades, shovels pickaxes etc could wait for another day, but Petra thought that it would be a good idea to take out the clothes and other smaller items, as she guessed that most people would be wanting to have showers, and would then want a set of clean clothes to change into. She placed the rucksacks neatly in the hall and walked out to the car for a second load, and also to find the bag with the laundered towels they had found in the gym. She was just making another trip back towards the car when she noticed ‘Blackie’ sniffing intently at the ground near the truck. “What have you found little one” Petra asked the dog. The dog said nothing; instead it circled around the truck pausing to sniff the ground, and then the air every few steps. Petra looked at the truck and noticed that there seemed to be patches of some kind of reddish congealing liquid, splattered on the roof and bonnet of the truck. ‘Is this part of the spooky experience that Wisperlee mentioned’ Petra wondered. A shiver of unease snaked its way up her spine. With one last look to check that all the vehicles were secure, Petra called Blackie to her and walked back into the house, making sure to lock the front door, and went to find the others.
  14. Distracted by settling the hounds into the car, Petra missed Wisperlee's unease. She settled herself in the car and waited for Wisperlee to signal that she was ready. (Sorry for the short post I don't have much access to a computer for the next week or so, so unless there are other plans could we just assume that Wisperlee and Petre get back to the others without any further events?)
  15. Petra was smiling as she watched the two dogs interact, when Wisperlee suggest that Cujo should ride in the car with her and the new dog, and that they should be heading back, even including a joke about the traffic, but some underlying tone in younger woman’s voice caused Petra to look sharply over at her. Petra did not miss the lost look that flitted across Wisperlee’s face as she watched the dogs. The younger girl looked like she was feeling scared, worried and alone; impulsively Petra moved and wrapped Wisperlee up in a big hug. The younger girl fit well into Petra’s arms, and Petra briefly allowed herself to enjoy the sensation, the hug felt so good, Wisperlee smelt lovely and Petra relished the feeling of having someone in her arms. Resisting the temptation to whisper encouraging but empty platitudes, ‘who can know what the future can hold’ Petra thought, she instead just held Wisperlee, until she started to think that the hug had probably gone on long enough, and Wisperlee could be starting to feel uncomfortable. A smirk formed on Petra’s lips at the though of Wisperlee trying to squirm away from her hug, like a cat that has been held for too long and now wants to escape. Still smirking Petra kissed the hair above Wisperlees ear, gave the younger girl one last gentle but hopefully reassuring squeeze, and then stepped away. “Okay hounds” Petra addressed the dogs, turning slightly so that she could give Wisperlee a chance to shake herself, and fluff out her fur like a disgruntled cat, “It’s time to get back on the road”.
  16. Petra thanked Wisperlee for the water and after she had gently put the dog on the ground, poured a little of the water into her cupped hand. The dog first stiffed at and then began to greedily lap at the water. Petra repeated the process several times before she paused to give the dog a rest. She didn’t want to make the dog ill by swamping its stomach with water. The dog seemed to visibly revive; it gently thumbed its tail on the ground and looked at Wisperlee and Cujo, while muttering happy whimpers. “I suppose it must have survived by licking condensation from the windows, and from any food scraps it found in the van. I noticed that there was a blanket and chew toy in the passenger seat, so perhaps the dog is use to going to work with its owner. One of my neighbours use to take his dog when he was going on long distance trips, he’s a lorry driver, and said that Milly, that’s the name of his dog, was good company, apparently she looked after him and made sure that he didn’t drive when he was tired”. Petra though about all the other dogs, cats and other animals that may be locked in cars, vans or houses, trapped unable to get out and slowly dying. Shaking her head to try and dispel such morose thoughts Petra got up from her kneeling position beside the dog. “I’ll just nip into the shop and grab some food for the pooch”. Surely the shop would have some kind of dried dog biscuit type thing Petra reasoned as she walked quickly towards the shop before Wisperlee could make comment. The glass door of the small shop opened easily enough after a few tugs. Fortunately there were plenty of windows which meant that the interior was well lit, and she could still see Wisperlee and Cujo on the garage forecourt. As she had earlier guessed the shelves didn’t stock too much, but she was able to quickly locate the area that contained cat food, and then a few steps further along dog food. Grabbing one of the first bags of dog munchies she saw, a food dish, and a few packets of dog treats Petra left the shop, pulling the glass doors closed. On her walk back to the others she noticed that Cujo had obviously been given permission to ‘greet’ the other dog. Cujo was on the ground, level with the other dog, and was giving it encouraging licks and sniffs, while the other dog responded in kind only less energetically. Wisperlee was looking at the dog with a mixture of concern and worry. Crouching down, Petra interrupted the dogs when she shook out a small amount of dog munchies in front of Cujo and the other dog. Cujo had of course already eaten, but like all dogs he wasn’t going to say ‘no’ to food, and Petra thought that seeing Cujo eat, would encourage the other dog to eat too, plus it would also be rude to put food in front of the new dog and not provide any for Cujo. Within seconds both of the dogs had wolfed down the food, and were looking at her for more. Petra allowed herself to smile and said to Wisperlee “Well that’s an encouraging sign don’t you think?”
  17. Petra waited for Wisperlee to park up in the petrol station, before choosing a petrol pump to park next to; she made sure to position the car so that she would be able to keep watch in the opposite direction to Wisperlee, not that there was much to see. The station was a little closer to the city then she would have liked, but the nearest buildings were a good 200 meters away and there was plenty of open ground between them and what looked to be mainly office/commercial type buildings. In the forecourt of the station there were two other vehicles, a battered looking white van and a small hatch back, both looked forlornly abandoned. In no time at all the Land Rover’s tank was filled. Debating with herself Petra eventually decided to resist the temptation to quickly nip into the petrol station building to have a look around. It was a small building and the chances were that it would only hold a few items, just the generic snacks and drinks etc, and they had plenty of those at the moment. She did however walk quickly over to the abandoned cars, to see if they held anything of interest. The small hatch back was very clean and tidy, with no personal items on immediate display. The white van was more cluttered, bits of paper, and discarded fast food boxes were left as evidence that the owner of the van was not overly fussed on the upkeep of his vehicle. Petra was just about to walk back to the Land Rover when she thought she heard a faint whimper, and movement in the foot well of the passenger side of the van. Walking around to the passenger side she cautiously opened the door, and there, curled up looking starving and de-hydrated was a small to medium sized black dog. In its bedraggled state it was hard to tell what kind of breed the animal could be, but the faint wagging of its tail indicated that it was friendly. Unwilling to shout over to Wisperlee, for fear of startling the poor dog, and for possibly attracting unwanted attention, Petra bent down and scooped up the poor dog and carried it over to where Wisperlee and Cujo were waiting.
  18. Wisperlee’s comment about ‘Whatever is going on, it’s still taking people’ sent a cold shiver though Petra. Was there a time frame to whatever was happening, would the remaining people continue to get picked off one by one? Petra felt herself teetering on the brink of dark despair, before she happened to look across at Cujo. The big dog was happily wagging his tail as he wandered about sniffing at various objects near the car, he wasn’t bothered by what was happening, or what the future may hold, he lived in the ‘now’, Petra decided that she should try to follow his example; there was no point in trying to guess what the future may hold, instead she should concentrate on what she had right at this moment. Taking a deep breath she exhaled and said “Right, we may as well make a start then” Even allowing for rest and fuel stops, all being well they should be able to arrive back to the others by early evening. “How are you doing for fuel?” She had taken note before they had stopped, that the Land Rover as a little under half way full, “I think that I will need to fill up again once we leave the city, I don’t want to risk letting getting too low on fuel” Petra knew that there were some full jerry cans strapped in the back of the car, but if possible she wanted to avoid using those, keeping the fuel they stored for dire emergences only. Once Wisperlee and Cujo were settled she started up the car and waited for Wisperlee to lead the way. As the women talked they were unaware that they were being observed, ‘it’ was biding its time, safe in the knowledge that it could not be detected, it waited, watched and evaluated.
  19. Petra was grateful that Wisperlee had decided to come with her, despite wanting to go back and check for the others, she didn’t know how she would have reacted if Wisperlee had insisted that she would travel to the group in Oakington. The drive back to the car park actually took less time then she had though, of course it helped that they were no longer constrained by traffic rules, they could drive on whichever side of the road they wished, travel up one way streets, cut across round-a-bouts. Petra’s good mood was dampened when they arrived at the meeting point, it looked as deserted as it had been that morning, nothing had been moved or disturbed. “They aren’t coming back are they”. She had known that this would be the case, but still she had held out some small glimmer of hope that Alex, Ellie and Sereana had somehow been delayed earlier, but they would be waiting for them when they arrived. Opening the door of the abandoned car Petra turned the ‘stay here’ note over, fished about in her bag for a pen and then thought for a few minutes. She felt like she ought to leave some kind of message, just encase Alex, Ellie and Sereana, or anyone else for that matter came back here, but on the other hand she didn’t feel it was safe to give the location of where the group was staying. In the end she wrote You are not alone (she didn’t realise that statement could also act as a warning) If you can, head South towards Cambridge. That should be enough information, Petra thought, whoever read the note would learn that there were still other people about, and that they should head for Cambridge, which was near, but not too near to Oakington. She held out the note for Wisperlee to read and comment on, and then secured it on the dashboard of the abandoned car. “I guess we head back to the other then, unless there is anywhere you would like to visit on route or anywhere near here?”
  20. Petra smile was one of relief on hearing that Wisperlee and Cujo were fine. Maybe their hurried exit from the shop had after all been a panic over nothing. She looked over at the big dog, who had adopted a relaxed draped position out of the motorbike’s sidecar. Cujo looked unconcerned as he watched a flock of birds peck at something on one of the garden lawns; but Petra ‘knew’ that back there at the shop he had sensed something, a something that he didn’t like. "Shall we head back to the others? Tell them that our Birmingham lead panned out, but they went missing." Petra thought over Wisperlee’s question. Should they return to the others now, giving up any hope that would find Alex, Ellie and Sereana? It looked like Wisperlee was eager to get back to the group as soon as possible, and Petra wanted that too, but could she in all good conscious go back to the others without first making some effort to see if Alex, Ellie and Sereana had returned to the car, and were waiting for them. Glancing at her watch Petra then made her decision “It’s just coming up to 11 o’clock, I know that we are probably miles away from the park, but I have to go back to see if Alex, Ellie and Sereana are there waiting, and if they are not, well then, I guess I’ll leave a note for them”. Petra looked at Wisperlee expectantly. She didn’t want the younger girl to feel that she was trying to tell her what to do; she had deliberately avoided trying to use the word ‘we’ as she spoke. It was up to the younger woman to decide if she wanted to come with her, of if she wanted to head back to the others. But Petra was fervently hoping that Wisperlee would decide to come with her.
  21. Eventually Petra felt herself calm. The drive away from the Hardware shop had been a blur of trying to drive as quickly as possible, while avoiding knocking into Wisperlee on her bike, and trying to scan their surroundings or any possible dangers. The further they travelled away from the shops the more Petra could feel the tension draining from her, and taking a quick glance over at Wisperlee, it seemed that she was beginning to relax a little too. Subconsciously the speed at which they were travelling had slowed, as they travelled through a spacious residential area, the large houses indicated that this was possible quite an affluent part of the city suburbs. Petra flicked on the car’s indicators to signal to Wisperlee that she was intending to stop, and once she was satisfied that the younger girl had seen her warning, she steered the Land Rover to the side of the road to come to a gentle stop, and set the cars hand break, but keeping the engine running, just encase. When Wisperlee drew level with her, Petra turned and opened the car’s door. “Are you and Cujo okay?” That was a daft question to ask Petra thought to herself, but it did give the younger woman an opportunity to adjust her helmet, and for Cujo to stretch up in his seat at the mention of his name.
  22. Petra had expected Wisperlee to make some comment as to why she was suggesting that they should leave. To tell her that she was panicking over nothing, and that she should pull herself together, and Petra would have been glad to accept the scolding, if it meant that she could ignore the ‘fight or flight’ response that was causing shivers of adrenaline to course through her body. Instead Wisperlee had agreed. The younger woman had taken one look at Cujo, had said “yes let’s go”’ and had started pushing her loot laden trolley towards the door. Quickly they piled everything into the car, taking it in turns to do so while the other kept watch. “Do you see anything?” Wisperlee had asked, as she took her turn to load the car. “No” Petra replied quietly, she confined herself to that one word, unwilling to share the panicked thoughts that were playing in her mind. Taking a deep breath she willed herself to calm down. ‘Pay attention to what is around you’ she told herself. After what felt like an age the car was packed. Petra was nearly going to suggest that Wisperlee ride with her in the car, but said nothing as she watched the young woman and Cujo walk determinedly towards the bike, and then get themselves ready. With one last look about the Land Rover, to make sure nothing was lurking in it or under it, Petra got into the driving seat, and waited for Wisperlee to start her bike. There was an unspoken agreement that Petra would follow Wisperlee on the bike, so Petra resisted the temptation that was telling her to put the acceleration peddle to the floor.
  23. As Wisperlee worked away smashing glass and gaining access to the tools in the cabinets, Petra found the aisle that contained the digging equipment. Following the younger woman’s example she proceeded to stack up a loading trolley with tools that she though would come in useful, taking no more then two or three of each item, after all as Wisperlee had pointed out, spades and shovels would probably be easy to come by in any of the building merchants/DIY shops. She had just placed a couple of hand held saws onto the trolley when she noticed a couple of smallish hand held axes on display. The axes had protective sheaths over the blades, and when Petra picked up two of the axes they felt comfortable and balanced in her hands, they had a pleasant weight without being overly heavy. ‘Well these could come in useful’ Petra thought and searched about for some kind of utility belt which wasn’t too big and bulky, after a brief search further along the shelves she found a belt that she though would fit the bill perfectly, it was light and slim but had loops into which the axes could be placed, or any other tools for that matter. After putting one of the belts on, inserting the axes, and spending a few minutes to adjust their hang to make she that the blade parts weren’t going to come into contact with any part of her body, she grabbed a few of the useful belts and put them neatly into a rucksack. Walking down the aisle she popped a few more useful items onto the trolley and into the rucksack. Her wanderings had brought her closer to the door so she though that she may as well load the items that she had already collected into the Land Rover. Steering the slightly unwieldy trolley towards the open door she asked Cujo to move out of the way, it was only when the dog ignored her request, resolutely staying where he was that she paid more attention “Cujo?” Petra asked questioningly. Petra had never seen Cujo look so intent and alert; it struck her then what a powerful animal he was. His breed had been trained to guard, and if required attack. His previous pauses had held a questioning yet light hearted, playful air to them, this time though Cujo was tensed and focused, but focused on what? Moving the trolley out of the way Petra crept to the door, making sure to give Cujo some space, and peered cautiously out. The street looked unchanged to how it had been a few moments ago, it was still silent and empty, but the birds were no longer hopping about, and was there an ominous stillness, or was that just her imagination? Retreating back into the shop she jogged hurriedly over to where Wisperlee was packing up her haul. “I know that this is going to sound daft, panicky and probably paranoid, but I have a strong feeling that we should leave, pack up whatever we have now and leave!”.
  24. Petra nodded at Wisperlee’s suggestion, she didn’t really have much of a clue when it came to power tools or car maintenance, but she reasoned that something was better then nothing, any equipment that they brought back could probably be adapted and utilised in some way. “I’d imagine that once Emily has finished looking over the farms and buildings, she will draw up a list of equipment of things that she needs, but I would like to bring back some shovels, forks, pickaxes and whatnot; I know that the farms probably have some, but it may be useful to have those kind of tools near to had”. Noting that Wisperlee was now equipped with a crowbar Petra continued “If you would like to start opening up the cabinets in the restricted section, and taking out the tools that look useful, I will grab some spades etc and stack them in the car, then we can work on filling up the rucksacks together?”.
  25. Once Wisperlee had given her acknowledgement to her suggestion, Petra made the short journey back to the car. She grabbed the rucksack that contained the other rolled up rucksacks and slung it over her shoulder; she then opened the back door of the Landrover and replaced the tire iron, and checked to gauge if the boot space would be wide enough to stack tools such as forks, spades, pickaxes and the like. Satisfied that it probably would, Petra paused a few minutes to look up and down the street, to check to see if the noise from the shop’s alarm had attracted anyone’s attention. The street remained empty, apart from a few sparrows that were hopping about the road and pavements, looking for insects. Back at the shop she stopped just inside the entrance and dug out two rucksacks, dropping the larger rucksack by the door. ‘It may be easier if we fill up individual bags, take them to the car and then collect an empty bag on our return’ Petra thought, and it would save lugging bags around. Walking further into to the shop she went to find Wisperlee, eventually locating her in an isle that contained things to do with cars. “So where should we start?” Petra asked, while holding out a rucksack to Wisperlee, explaining as she did so where she had left the other bags.