Coming, Ready Or Not
Abigail stood counting by the apple tree, her dress of pale muslin undulating in the breeze. Though sure her four friends had scattered to the distant realms of her father’s house, she nevertheless opened her clenched hands to peek with utmost caution.
The first thing she spied through her fingers was a visitor for her father standing in the garden, an old gentleman wearing a soft brown cap, much like Timothy’s though a little ragged. She didn’t think she’d seen him before, but he had an air of familiarity, an uncle beheld once in a photo perhaps.
She ran past the man as she dashed into the house.
“One hundred! Coming, ready or not.”
“You play your game, Abigail,” the gentleman offered as she scuttled by, almost to himself. “We have all the time in the world.”
Abigail’s friends, though suspecting her counting had been a little rapid, dashed squealing for dark corners and cupboards. Timothy, the youngest, leapt through the nearest door and found himself in Professor Perkins’ workroom, a clutter of flasks and brass, befitting one of Victorian England’s more prominent inventors. Through dusty sunbeams, he saw under the large desk in the centre of the room an ancient chest, a mysterious coffer that had sailed on the sloop of Blackbeard himself, according to the mischievous professor.
A quick look around the room told Timothy his options were few and fading fast. The clomp of Abigail’s new shoes could be heard on the hallway floorboards outside. Timothy lifted the lid of the chest, gave but a glimpse at the blackness inside, and pushed himself into its interior. He immediately felt a pull, some unseen hand that smothered his legs and wrenched him ever inwards in freefall. In an instant of terror, Timothy twisted his body and caught sight of the door which was opening even as the lid fell down and closed off his world. The last thing he registered, her mouth bending into a gleeful smile, was Abigail’s face, triumphant eyes locked onto the chest.
Abigail’s expression changed to befuddlement as she viewed the chest in front of her, lid propped open. Where was Timothy? Inside the chest was one of her father’s notorious ‘contraptions’, a collection of clocks, tubes and knobs, one part of which was spinning furiously.
Defying logic, she allowed her eyes to wander the room, roaming through the stout oak table legs, over to the large tin atlas by the window and then back to the chest by way of the bookshelves, stacked with red and brown leather. Timothy was gone.
“I so wanted to be here for this moment, Abigail. To speak to you and tell you it was alright. That I had gone somewhere safe.”
The voice at the door startled the girl, who fell into a sitting position as she turned to look at the old man from the garden. His hand reached out towards her, that familiar brown cap perched just above the eyes she knew so well.
About the Author
The author is a 40-year old Londoner who lives in the south of England with his dogs and his books in a house nearly as old as him. He only took up fiction writing very recently and is busy making up for lost time.