Tag Archives: The Inklings

The Inklings: Chapter 101

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

After Syafika left Fanta stayed out the front to watch the rain, and John came out to join her.

“Why didn’t Syafika want to borrow an umbrella?” asked John.

“She said she felt like getting rained on” said Fanta. “I’m a bit worried about Syafika trying to find out more about Anthony. He tends to make her go a bit crazy”.

“Yes, I don’t like the sound of Anthony at all. I think he’s shifty. But maybe the sooner Syafika realizes that, the better” said John.

“I guess. Meeting up with Anthony probably isn’t any crazier than chasing him around the Botanic Gardens” said Fanta.

“Tomorrow I’m going to teach my brother Tim how to run the restaurant so he can manage it while I take the weekened off. And Emily has invited us to dinner on Saturday. We can sleep over if we want because her place is so far away” John told Fanta.

“That will be a nice change!” said Fanta. “What about Nancy and Ruby? Are they invited to Emily’s place or should I ask D’arby if he can babysit?”

John was mortified that he hadn’t thought about Fanta’s sisters.

“What would they prefer?” asked John.

“They would probably like to come” said Fanta.

And so John went to call Emily, who fortunately was was happy for Nancy and Ruby to come to dinner too. Then John went back out the front to tell Fanta, but she wasn’t there anymore. Back inside John bumped into D’arby, who was on his way to have a shower.

“You never told me what was in the parcel!” said John.

“Not a bomb!” said D’arby. “Just urgent work stuff”. D’arby felt really sad about having to keep the exciting things going on in his life a secret and hoped that one day soon he’d be able to tell John all about this adventure.

————————————————————————————————————————————–

The sound of heavy rain woke Fanta up early on Tuesday morning and she realised that rain was coming in through her open bedroom window. Fanta’s bedroom faced the street but because of the strong metal bars across the window she was not afraid to leave it open while she slept. As Fanta walked over to close the window a gust of wind blew the curtains open and Fanta thought she saw someone come in the front gate. She moved to the side of the window and peeped sideways through the gap in the curtain and saw someone leave an envelope on the doorstep. A car came along the street just as the mysterious delivery person turned to leave and in the light from the headlights Fanta caught a glimpse of a man who looked a lot like Anthony.

 

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The Inklings: Chapter 100

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

It was raining when Syafika left Fanta’s place, but Syafika liked being outside in the rain. There was still a little bit of light in the sky when Syafika arrived home so she decided to have a look at how the runoff was flowing through the back garden. As Syafika walked out the back door she discovered that Festus had set up his tools under the back verandah and was making something from pieces of wood.

“What are you making?” Syafika asked.

“I’m making two wheelchair ramps for India so that Penny can get in the front and back doors of her house” said Festus.

“That’s nice of you. I hope Penny and Gina are able to feel comfortable at India’s house” said Syafika. Syafika couldn’t imagine how she would survive living with India and realised that Penny and Gina would have to put up with it for at least a year.

“India will be on her best behaviour. She feels responsible for the fire and car accidents because she’s the one who asked Gina to make sweet potato chips, and it was India’s friends who filled the street with parked cars” said Festus.

Syafika took off her shoes and paddled along the miniature river to the pond. She could hear frogs croaking but it was too dark to see them. Then Syafika heard Rose telling Festus to come inside and reminding him that it was the 15th of March. Syafika had forgotten it was the anniversary of her grandparent’s death. She rushed inside to have a quick shower before 9pm.

Every year at 9pm on 15th March Rose would select something from her parents’ music collection to play and everyone had to sit in silence and listen to it from start to finish. It was not something that Syafika looked forward too, but she endured it without complaint because she knew how important it was to Rose.

When Syafika came into the loungeroom Rose was carefully opening a box that held the CDs, cassettes and records. Ousman was next to Binta and trying to stick his head into the box to see what Rose would choose to play.

“Be careful Ousman. The records are very fragile and precious” said Syafika.

There was a rule about which music was chosen. Each year they would play what was at the front of the box and then put it at the back of the box and Rose would not let anyone change the order. If anyone wanted to play any of the music on any other day of the year Rose would have to supervise and make sure that the order was not changed.

At the front of the box there was a CD and Binta took it out. The cover had a picture of a man sitting at a piano on it. Ousman laughed at the man’s hair because it was parted down the middle and stuck out a bit at the sides.

“This is the pianist who got so carried away that he often played wrong notes” said Binta.

Syafika remembered how when she was a girl her piano teacher had often been cross at her for playing wrong notes and decided that she might enjoy this record.

Syafika looked at Mamadou to see what he thought of this ceremony because it was the first time he’d been there to take part. Mamadou looked happy and Syafika wondered whether all artists were obsessed with music.

Festus turned on the lamp near the CD player and turned off the overhead light. Syafika realised that she sitting in the darkest seat in the room and was glad because it meant she wouldn’t have to worry about her face giving away any of her thoughts.

The first piece of music was slightly familiar to Syafika but not something she’d ever tried to play so she wasn’t able to tell if the pianist made any mistakes. The left hand played the melody and the right hand ran up and down the keyboard making complicated patterns that Syafika suspected were beyond her ability. Syafika enojyed the piece and wondered whether her grandparents had hoped she would be able to play it one day.

The second piece was something Syafika had played, but never as beautifully. The pianist on the record was explaining something using music, as if he wasn’t able to talk but had something very important to say. When Syafika had played the piece she’d been so worried about keeping time and getting the notes right that she’d made it sound robotic.

Syafika looked at Ousman to see if he was getting bored. He had his eyes closed and was leaning against Binta. At first Syafika thought he’d fallen asleep but then he smiled and moved his head to the other side so Syafika realised he was just enjoying the music.

The third piece of music was a trio and something Syafika had heard her grandfather listening to many times. The violin’s cheerful start made tears come to Syafika’s eyes. She remembered her grandfather’s bushy eyebrows and couldn’t help crying. Then Syafika remembered a stream of other things, like the day she’d got stuck at the top of a pear tree and her grandmother had called out helpful instructions to guide her down, and the taste of the dark purple plums her grandparents had grown. Syafika wiped tears from her cheeks and tried not to sniffle too loudly.

The next piece was just for piano and not something Syafika remembered hearing before. It reminded her of running up a hill and her mind drifted to other things. Syafika realised she missed being a kid who had nothing much to worry about apart from music lessons and she realised that she missed her piano teacher too.  Next Syafika remembered the photo of Anthony that D’arby had shown her that evening and the plans they’d made for her to contact Anthony. She realised how much she enjoyed being part of a plan that involved team work. It had been fun to spy on Anthony by herself, but also a bit too scary for comfort. Now that D’arby, Fanta and John were involved Syafika thought she would be able to relax and enjoy the adventure more.

When Syafika realised that instead of listening to the music she’d been thinking about Anthony and she decided that she’d give her full attention to the music for the rest of the CD. So Syafika spent the next half hour thinking only about the music she was listening to and she enjoyed it so much that when it was over she was disappointed.

When Festus turned the light on Syafika realised that Amanda was sitting on the floor near the door and looking really sad. When Amanda noticed that Syafika was looking at her she dashed out of the room and up the stairs so fast that Syafika wasn’t sure she’d really seen her.

Nobody else in the room mentioned Amanda and Syafika wondered whether they’d even noticed her. Ousman asked whether they could listen to music like that more often but Syafika didn’t wait to hear what Rose and Binta would say because she didn’t want anyone to notice that her eyes were red from crying. She said “Goodnight” and went to her room without looking back.


The Inklings: Chapter 99

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

D’arby couldn’t help running the last kilometre of his trip home. He was anxious to find out if he was right that Lawrence the spy was also Syafika’s Anthony.

When D’arby burst in the front door Fanta came out of the kitchen and whispered for him to be quiet, then pointed towards the chair where John was sleeping.

D’arby quietly opened his backpack and took out an enlarged copy of the photo on Lawrence’s license.

“Is this Anthony?” D’arby asked Fanta.

Fanta looked at the photo carefully and then said “I think it is him, but you should ask Syafika to be sure. I only saw him once, and he was running pretty fast. But why on earth do you want to know?”

D’arby hated that he couldn’t tell Fanta what was going on. “I decided I would try to find out what Anthony is up to afterall” said D’arby.

“Where did you get that photo?” asked Fanta.

“I’m not supposed to say” said D’arby. “Is Syafika coming for dinner tonight? I’d really like to show her the photo”

“She is. I will call her to see if she can come early” said Fanta. She had never seen D’arby looking so excited and didn’t want him to have to wait any longer than necessary.

The stress of the fire on Saturday had left Syafika mentally exhausted and she was not enjoying being at work on Monday, so when Fanta called to ask Syafika to come early for dinner she was happy to oblige. Syafika turned off her computer and went downstairs to change into her running clothes. The clothes were still damp with sweat from Syafika’s lunchtime run but she decided that being a bit smelly was a fair price to pay for getting to Fanta’s place a bit faster. Syafika started running as soon as she came out the front door of her office building and smiled to herself because she looked and felt like she was running away from work.

When Syafika arrived at Fanta’s house John answered the door and Syafika thought he looked like he’d just woken up.

D’arby was in the kitchen making salad to go with leftover pumpkin soup and bread. Fanta and her sisters were in the backyard taking the washing off the clothesline because it looked like it was about to rain.

Syafika went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and caught D’arby muttering to himself.

“I want to show you something” said D’arby and he quickly washed and dried his hands before going to get the photo of Lawrence.

“That’s Anthony!” said Syafika as soon as she saw the photo.

“I thought so” said D’arby. “I just have to make a quick phone call and I’ll be back in a minute” said D’arby and he rushed to the phone to call Rudnika.

“I was right” said D’arby to Rudnika.

“Ok. See what else you can find out and I’ll see you tomorrow” said Rudnika.

Syafika was still looking at the photo of Anthony when D’arby returned to the kitchen.

“Where did you get this?” Syafika asked.

“I can’t say” said D’arby. “But I’ll help you find out more about Anthony if you like”

“Why now? A couple of months ago when I suggested we spy on him you and the others thought it was a dangerous idea” said Syafika. She’d been feeling a bit hurt ever since.

“I realised I should have been more helpful” said D’arby. “Tell me what else you want to know about Anthony”

Syafika didn’t want to tell D’arby that she wanted to know if Anthony had a girlfriend so she tried to think of other things she’d like to know and eventually said “I’d like to know how he can afford to live in a flat with harbour views and where he really went last year when he said he was moving to Perth. And I’d like to know where he works now, and why he pretends to be someone called Lawrence and has meetings with Celine and Nelson from work”

D’arby couldn’t help smiling when he heard all this information, even though he’d heard most of it before, because this time it made sense and he no longer thought that Syafika was making it up. D’arby really wanted to give Syafika some answers but knew he had to be careful. Then D’arby had what he thought was a brilliant idea. “Why don’t you organize to meet up with Anthony and just ask him all your questions?”

“I don’t know how to contact him” said Syafika. “I don’t have his current phone number”.

“Nelson must have it though” said D’arby.

“And so does Celine” said Syafika. “I saw her put it in her mobile phone”.

“What’s going on?” asked John as he walked into the kitchen with a fresh teatowel.

“Do you know anything about mobile phones?” D’arby asked John.

“Only how to steal them” said John.


The Inklings: Chapter 96

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

When D’arby was about halfway to work he sat down on a brick wall, took the parcel out of his backpack and examined it. It was in one of the carboard boxes that they sold at the post office and it had stamps on it, but D’arby couldn’t see a postmark.

D’arby rattled the box but it didn’t make any sound. D’arby sniffed the parcel, but it only smelt like cardboard.

D’arby wondered for a minute whether he should take the parcel to Sonia and get her to open it, but decided against it. Although he was a little bit worried that it might explode or contain a listening device, D’arby thought it most likely was that the parcel was meant to be seen by him on his own.

There was stickytape holding the box closed so D’arby cut it using a key. Then D’arby gently opened the box. Inside there was a white envelope and inside the envelope were photos. The photos were of people entering and leaving the secret RenewBank office plus some photos of D’arby at his desk and of everyone having lunch in the rooftop garden. D’arby could easily see the significance of these photos – they meant that someone knew where the real RenewBank work was being done, and who was doing it, and if they knew that they could know more. What D’arby didn’t understand was what the motivation was for sending him the photos, and then it occurred to him that there might still be a note hiding somewhere in the box or envelope. D’arby shook the envelope and out came a folded-up piece of paper. The note said:

“I was commissioned to find out what RenewBank is really up to, and I did. What will RenewBank pay me to keep this quiet? I will contact you tomorrow with payment details”

D’arby put the note and photos back into his backpack and continued walking to the official office. The sense of urgency D’arby felt made him want to run but he knew there was no point getting to the office before 7:30am so he walked, and tried to calm himself down by concentrating on his breathing.

At the official office D’arby calmly followed the usual security procedures and Sonia didn’t notice that anything was wrong, but as soon as D’arby was on the way to the secret office he rode his bike as fast as he could, and managed to arrive at the secret office just before 8am.

Nobody else had arrived yet so D’arby had to wait. He went to his desk and looked at the photos and tried to work out where they’d been taken from. Some were taken from above and some were on street level so D’arby guessed they must have been taken from different levels of a building across the street. D’arby looked out the window and saw that there was a ‘For Lease’ sign in the building directly opposite. Then he looked down and noticed that Rudnika and Leopold were both approaching the office. D’arby ran downstairs to meet. He showed them the photos and told them how they’d been left for him by a mysterious man early that morning.

When Carol and Valentine arrived Rudnika gathered everyone together around the meeting table. After D’arby explained what had happened and everyone had looked at the photos it was time to decide what to do.

“I think we need to move the office today” said Leopold. “If we do it before whoever took the photos shares them with whoever commissioned them then things might be ok.”

“Yes, we should move today, but we also need to find out who took these photos and who they were taken for” said Rudnika.

“Can’t we just see how much money they want? It might be cheaper to pay than to move” said Valentine.

“We could pay, but how do we know that will be the end of it?” said Rudnika. “And how do we know they won’t tell anyone else about us?”

“Why would someone try to sell us photos they had taken for someone else?” asked Carol.

“This is why we need to find out who did this” said Rudnika. “Then we will know what we are up against. But first we need to move and we need to make sure nobody manages to follow us.”

Rudnika packed the photos and the note back into the envelope and postbox and put it into her bag.

About an hour later a moving van arrived and everyone had to help load all the RenewBank stuff into it. Then the van drove away and Rudnika took everyone to a café down the street to discuss what was going to happen next. Rudnika had organized for the van to disappear into a busy industrial area, where their stuff would be moved to a different van and taken to the new office. The new office wasn’t far away. Rudnika told them the address and made everyone memorise it because she didn’t wany anyone to write it down. Nobody was going there today though. For the rest of the day they were going to investigate how someone had managed to find out where the secret office was, who had found out and why they’d done it. They brainstormed for ways to find answers and then divided the tasks up and set off. D’arby and Rudnika were going to work together, Carol and Valentine were another team and Leopold was going to work on his own. D’arby was pleased with this because he wanted to get to know Rudnika better and because the first thing they were going to do was investigate the empty building across the road. Rudnika was sure that the ‘For Lease’ sign hadn’t been there on Friday.

D’arby was expecting that Rudnika would pick the lock so they could sneak into the building and have a secret look around but instead she lead the way to the Real Estate agent that was managing the property and pretended that she was interested in leasing it.

The agent was a man called Ross who tried to get them to come back at 3pm because that’s when he’d organized to show another potential tenant around. D’arby had suspected that something like that might happen and turned to Rudnika to see how she would deal with it.

“That’s unfortunate” said Rudnika. “We have a tight deadline and need to decide on an office space by 2pm today. If you think that showing us the office before 3pm is a waste of your time then you must not be very confident that we will want to lease it, which is fine because my colleagues are looking at other places this morning so we will just take one of those instead.” Then Rudnika paused for a couple of seconds before handing her mobile phone to D’arby and saying “Can you please call Valentine and let him know that if the Bourke Street office is ok that we will go with it”

D’arby didn’t really know how to use the phone and he definitely didn’t know how to call Valentine so instead he called the number of his old flat and wondered how many times he should let it ring before pretending that Valentine had answered.

“If you do that you will miss out on a great office space” said Ross, who was trying to sound calm but gave away his anxiety by speaking too fast. “It feels unfair to show it to you before the person booked in for 3pm, but it is my duty to get the best tenant for the place so I will get the keys and take you there now”

When Ross turned away to go and get the keys Rudnika winked at D’arby. D’arby gave Rudnika back her phone and smiled. He was glad he hadn’t had to deal with Ross on his own.

As they walked down the street towards the vacant building Ross pretended to be friendly and asked lots of questions but even D’arby could tell that Ross was just trying to find out what sort of tenants they’d be. Rudnika gave polite answers but soon took control of the direction of the conversation by asking Ross about the previous tenant and why they’d left.

D’arby could tell that Ross was trying to think of how to put a good spin on his answer. “Lawrence ran a successful investment business and I was going to enjoy having him as a tenant” said Ross. “But his mother became sick on Friday and he had to leave in a hurry to go and look after her in Perth”

“The owner must be in a hurry to lease the property then, after the sudden loss of rental income” said D’arby. He was hoping the question would annoy Ross.

“Well, actually Lawrence paid the rent in advance for the whole 5 years so there is no pressure to fill the building for another 4 years and 11 months” said Ross, sounding a bit smug.

D’arby was feeling pretty clever for having tricked Ross into giving away how long Lawrence had been in the building.

Ross unlocked the front door and while he was disarming the alarm Rudnika watched but D’arby started looking around. D’arby took note of the view from the downstairs windows and was sure that this was the building where the photos of people entering the RenewBank office had been taken from. He was keen to see the view from upstairs and so didn’t pay much attention when Ross started explaining the facilities downstairs. Rudnika was more interested. There was a bathroom and kitchen downstairs and she wanted to see them both.

D’arby watched Ross and Rudnika walk into the kitchen and then he rushed upstairs. There were two windows that faced towards the Renewbank Office. D’arby noticed that one had a dusty window sill and the other didn’t so he looked out the window with the clean sill. He could see into the office where he, Valentine and Carol had been working and there was also a clear view of the roof garden.

“It is a nice view, isn’t it?” said Ross.

D’arby got a bit of a fright but tried to pretend he hadn’t.

“There is a lot of dust” said D’arby and he ran his finger along the dusty window sill.

“I haven’t actually been in here since Lawrence left but I will forgive him for not having taken time to clean when he was so worried about his mother. If it is an issue I can organize for a cleaner to come through before you move in” said Ross.

“Ok” said D’arby and he looked towards the stairs, wondering where Rudnika was.

Ross noticed and said “She’s using the bathroom”.

D’arby doubted that Rudnika was really using the bathroom and realised that he should try to keep Ross busy.

“Do you know how old the building is?” asked D’arby.

“Not sure exactly” said Ross. “More than 100 years old though. But the owner had the wiring and plumbing redone a couple of years ago and there aren’t any leaks”.

D’arby asked a few more questions and Ross dutifully answered before Rudnika came upstairs.

“Thank you Ross. This is a very nice space” said Rudnika. “I need to talk to my colleagues to find out about the places they have looked at before I can apply for this place. I will get back to you in 30 minutes. Will you be back at your office then?” asked Rudnika.

Ross looked at his watch and said “Yes. Don’t waste any time though. 2pm is approaching fast.”

Rudnika smiled then turned and hurried downstairs. D’arby said goodbye to Ross and then followed Rudnika.

When they got outside Rudnika put her arm out to attract a taxi and she and D’arby hopped in. D’arby was surprised when Rudnika asked the driver to take them to the police station, but he didn’t want to ask what was going on infront on the taxi driver.

When they got out of the taxi infront of the police station Rudnika said “I have a friend here who is going to help us. You wait outside and I’ll be back in 10 minutes”.

D’arby didn’t like standing out the front of the police station because the people who came and went tended to glare at him. Fortunately Rudnika returned as quickly as she’d said she would.

“What’s going on?” asked D’arby.

“I lifted some fingerprints and a friend is going to check them” said Rudnika.

“How did you do that?” asked D’arby. “And won’t your friend get into trouble?”

“Make-up and stickytape, and no he won’t get into trouble because he is investigating identity crime, and I bet the person spying on us didn’t use their real identity” said Rudnika.


The Inklings: Chapter 95

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

Aminata paced up and down along the sill of the front window for 15 minutes after Ousman left for school. Binta wondered whether Aminata hoped Ousman would sneak back home and she suspected that Ousman would have liked to. Ousman had seemed disappointed that he was going to miss out on going to the hospital that day.

Mamadou came inside carrying a roll of drawings of the garden he’d designed for Gina and Penny. Binta didn’t think that Penny or Gina would be very interested in building a garden when they didn’t have a house anymore but Mamadou was confident that once they saw his design they would want to start straight away.

There was another barrier to Mamadou starting his gardening business though. Binta had discovered that not only was Mamadou’s visa temporary, but it also didn’t allow him to work. Binta thought that was very mean and hoped that they could get the conditions changed.

Mamadou wasn’t as upset as Binta. He didn’t mind there being a barrier to him earning money and he was determined that it wasn’t going to stop him from building gardens. He could see that Binta was upset though and realised that she’d been looking forward to running his business.

At the hospital Mamadou and Binta found Gina sitting next to Penny’s bed. Gina and Penny were happy to see Binta and Mamadou, and Penny was extra pleased when she noticed that Mamadou was carrying a roll of drawings.

“They discharged me this morning” said Gina. “But I don’t really want to go… I can’t go home and I don’t want to leave Penny”

“Tell her not to worry about me” said Penny. “I’m going to be out of here soon too… in a few days”

Mamadou was very pleased with this news. He’d been really worried about Penny. Mamadou wanted to show his drawings but thought it was too early in the conversation.

“India has been working hard to create a kind of home for you at her place” said Binta.

“Yes, I should show appreciation for what India is doing for us” said Gina. “What if you take me there when you leave? If I return to our street with company it won’t be as painful”

Mamadou and Binta were happy with this suggestion, and Penny tried to look happy too, but inside she was sad that she had to stay behind in hospital. To take her mind off this she asked Mamadou to show her his drawings.

Gina looked over Penny’s shoulder as she unrolled the drawings. There were ten pages. The first page was a garden plan and the next 8 pages were views from different angles and drawings of some of the details, including the outdoor shower. Penny and Gina made approving noises as they looked at these pages, but it was the final page that they found really exceptional. It was of a cute little house that was almost completely hidden in the garden.  The door and some windows were visible but the roof was covered in garden.

“You’ve designed us a new house too!” said Penny.

“Yes. I hope it isn’t too soon to start thinking about what you might build. I hope I haven’t gone too far. This is what the house of a real garden lover should look like”.

“I would love to live in that house” said Gina.

“So would I” said Penny. “I would hate to move to a normal house now that we have nothing to put in it. It would feel so empty. But this little house would be so cosy and comfortable.

Mamadou looked at Binta and was happy to see that she was smiling.


The Inklings: chapter 94

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

John had a hellish Sunday night. His body seemed restless and it ached if he tried to lie still. He moved about so much in bed that the bottom sheet came off and became twisted around him. John must have fallen asleep a couple of times because he managed to have some bad dreams. In his dreams John was trying to get away from something or someone and was feeling extremely guilty. Sometimes he was driving a car, sometimes riding a bicycle and sometimes walking, but always along a quiet country road with the sun setting on his left.

John desperately wanted to get outside and stretch his legs but waited until 5am because he thought that was about as early as you could go out without raising suspicion. John was careful not to make any noise as he got dressed, and he closed the front door very gently. It was still dark outside but there were a few people around, mostly runners. John remembered how much fun Syafika seemed to be having now that she’d become a runner and he decided he should run too so he dashed down the street. The pavements in the area were old and unpredictable and so John had to pay attention to where he was putting his feet. To add to the challenge, there were spaces between street lights were it was completely dark. John took short, quick steps and concentrated on how his feet were moving. John had so much fun that for a little while he wondered why he didn’t run everywhere, but then he became puffed and sweaty and had to stop running.

John wondered what to do next. He didn’t want to go home until it was time for Fanta to get up. John decided that the university grounds would be fun to explore at this time of day so he headed that way, but when he realised he was on the street of the flat he and D’arby used to live in John instead decided to go and see it first. D’arby had told John how a fence had been put up around the block of flats and that he expected it would be knocked down soon. When John arrived there he saw the fence but the building was still standing. Attached to the fence was a large, friendly-looking sign. The sign was just close enough to a street light for John to have a go at reading it. It said something about a housing cooperative and that the building was going to be renovated. There were contact details on the sign so John tried to memorise them. He couldn’ wait to tell D’arby that the block of flats wasn’t going to be knocked down, but it was still too early for anyone to be up at home so to kill some more time John ran into the university. John noticed that the paving of the university was much more predictable so he started running as fast as he could and then stopped to walk and catch his breath. He did this quite a few times before he noticed that the sky was starting to lighten. Then John started walking back home. As John walked along he realised that while he’d been out running he’d forgotten all his worries.

John was glad to turn into Fanta’s street because his legs had started to feel heavy, but he was startled to see a man coming out of the gate of Fanta’s house. In the half-light of early sunrise John thought it might be D’arby leaving early for work, but when he got closer he realised that it wasn’t. The man hurried across the road, got into a car and quickly drove away. John tried to memorise the numberplate but only got the first half of it.

When John got to the doorstep he found a small parcel on it addressed to D’arby so he picked it up and took it inside.

D’arby was putting on his shoes, which meant he was about to leave for work. Nobody else was up yet so John had to be quiet, even though he was very excited.

“A man left this parcel for you. I saw him leaving as I came up the street” whispered John. “Do you think it might be a bomb?”

It took D’arby two seconds to comprehend what John had just said, before he looked at the parcel and shrugged.

“What was it about the man who delivered the parcel that makes you suspicious?” asked D’arby.

“Well, it was so early and he drove a car not a van. He wasn’t wearing a uniform either” said John.

D’arby wondered what he should do. If he hadn’t been working for RenewBank he probably would have just opened the parcel, but because of the top secret work he’d been doing, and the deception he had to keep up everyday about what he was working on and where his office was, D’arby had become suspicious. He didn’t think it likely that the parcel was a bomb but he did think it likely that the parcel was meant to cause some kind of mischief. D’arby thought about the timing and wondered whether whoever left the parcel was hoping that he would take it with him to work so he considered leaving it at home and opening it that night. However, he didn’t want to risk leaving a parcel that might be dangerous at home in case it harmed someone there. D’arby was annoyed at being delayed by this conundrum and decided to compromise. He put the parcel in his backpack and set out. He planned to stop and open the parcel when he was halfway to work.


The Inklings: Chapter 93

To read the story from the start go to: https://the-inkling.com/catch-up-with-the-inklings/

When Rose went outside on Sunday morning she discovered that a crowd had gathered to inspect what was left of the building next door. Rose noticed that amongst the crowd were Victoria and Graham, who owned the larger part of the building. Rose could hear Graham telling the crowd that they’d been underinsured and wouldn’t be able to afford to rebuild. Rose hadn’t had much to do with Victoria and Graham but she felt sorry for them. However, Rose was more concerned about how Gina and Penny were.

When Gina woke up on Sunday morning she wondered how she’d managed to get to sleep at all because her leg was hurting, and she was scared to move it in case it made the pain worse. Gina wanted to go and see Penny, who she knew was on a different floor of the same hospital, but Gina didn’t think she’d be able to walk.

Gina had the urge to brush her hair and wished that someone would bring in her hairbrush and some clothes. She would have been pleased to know that Rose was already at the hospital. Rose was downstairs with Penny, who was in intensive care. Penny wasn’t saying much, but she kept asking for Gina. It was as if Penny didn’t believe it when people told her that Gina was ok and wanted to see it for herself. Rose wondered whether she’d be able to bring Gina down to see Penny and went to ask someone.

When Rose appeared in the doorway of Gina’s room she was accompanied by a man with an empty wheelchair. His job was to take patients where they needed to go.

Gina forgot about her leg being sore and plopped herself into the wheelchair. She felt like telling the man pushing her wheel chair to hurry but thought that might be a bit rude, so instead she just leant forward.

Penny was waiting in anticipation when Rose and Gina arrived. The man pushing Gina in her wheel chair delivered her to the room and then left. When Rose saw Penny and Gina holding hands she thought she should leave too, so she offered to get some tea. Neither Penny nor Gina wanted tea but they insisted Rose get herself some. Rose said she’d be back later and wandered off, looking for stairs or lifts.

It didn’t take Gina long to work out that Penny was in a worse condition than her. Penny had broken bones and lost lots of blood, and had been operated on. Penny and Gina swapped versions of what had happened but still had lots of questions. Nobobdy had told them how much of their house had been damaged and they wondered where they would go when they were discharged from hospital. By the time Rose got back Penny and Gina had so many questions that they were glad to see her.

“How bad is the house?” asked Gina.

Rose had been expecting that question and decided to not to drag out the bad news.

“The whole building was destroyed, not just your part. So you will have to decide what to do next. Everyone hopes you will rebuild because we don’t want you to move away. I’ll help you sort out the insurance and India wants you to stay with her when you get out of hospital” answered Rose.

Gina and Penny were both very disappointed to hear that news. Penny moaned and started to remember all the treasures she’d had that were now lost.

“But the fire was only in the kitchen” said Gina.

“Yes, but it had spread everywhere before it was put out” said Rose.

“I am the worst neighbour in the world” said Gina. “Graham and Victoria will hate me. The fire didn’t damage your house too, did it?”

“No, our place is fine” said Rose. Rose decided that she wouldn’t mention that Graham and Victoria were underinsured.

As Rose was leaving the hospital she bumped into India. India had been busy making plans for Gina and Penny and had brought them some clothes and a big basket of other things they might need. Rose felt bad that she hadn’t thought to bring anything like that. India promised to visit Rose that afternoon and then rushed off to Penny’s room.


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