20 Part 1

            Spook looked up at the clock, to use Anna’s name for it. It was still late, or maybe early, depending on which way you looked at it, so Elorithryn and Moonwalker would still be asleep. At least, she hooped so. Although they were quite relaxed about what she was and wasn’t allowed to do, Spook wasn’t sure that her Elders would agree with what she was planning now.

            She swung her legs over the edge of the bed, wincing as her bare feet made contact with the cold floor. The under floor heating was not activated at this time of night, but Spook had forgotten that.

            “I should get a rug,” she decided, as she hastily dressed, fumbling for the clothes in the darkness. Her trousers seemed not to fit, until she realised that they were twisted.

            Laughing softly at her own ineptness, Spook slipped on her socks, and turned the handle of her bedroom door. It clicked slightly and she held her breath, waiting for the sound of Elorithryn’s feet in the corridor outside, but the house was silent.

            Spook considered Shifting to the form of something with wings – it would be quicker, and she would not have to worry about creaking floorboards. But she decided against it, because the wing beats might wake her Elders, and then she would be for it.

            Carefully, Spook eased her way down the stairs, sticking to the edge to minimise any creaking. Even so, the step halfway down gave a loud protest as her feet touched it, and she bit her lip, looking around to see if anyone heard. But no one came running to stop her, so she continued to make her precarious descent.

            After almost ten minutes of sneaking, she reached the kitchen, and that was her destination, for the moment. Glancing around, she saw that there was no paper, and no pens anywhere in the room.

            “Grr!” she muttered to herself. “Why does this always happen? I don’t have time to go and look for some!” Abandoning that part of her plan, she opened the fridge, and started to stuff bread rolls and fruit into the bag she had hanging over her shoulder. Soon it was fool, and as Spook went to shut the door, something caught her eye.

            It was a tin of pasta, the kind that small children eat, in the shape of alphabet letters. An absurd idea started to form in Spook’s cunning mind, and she took the tin.

            When she got over to the table, she spread a large sheet of tin foil over it. It was going to give Elorithryn a lot more work if she covered the table in tomato sauce. Tipping the tin out onto one corner of the foil, Spook set to work.

            Elo and Moon, she wrote. It was slow, messy work, but Spook had to leave this message, no matter what. I have gone to help Anna. I know she is in danger. Do not try to bring me home because I know this is where I am supposed to be. I have this feeling. I’ll explain more when I get home.

            There were no apostrophes in the tin of pasta, so Spook broke part of an ‘l’ and used it instead. She hated using bad grammar or bad punctuation, although many of her peers did it deliberately, to make it quicker to type.

            Only because they’re idiots, Spook reflected. You’d think, on a planet of authors, that they’d learn how to touch type sooner rather than later.

            Her message complete, Spook tipped the rest of the pasta back into the tin, and threw it away. It was too unhygienic to use it again, she knew. Then, washing her hands to rid them of the sticky liquid, she tiptoed out of the kitchen, towards the front door.

            This was a crucial moment. If she was still in the house when Elorithryn and Moonwalker read her message, she would be dead, figuratively speaking. Spook lifted the latch on the door, turning the handle cautiously.

            Thank goodness, it had been oiled quite recently, and did not squeak. More confidently now, she pulled the door open, and a gust of cold air blew in.

            Resigned, Spook left the house, carefully, quietly, closing the door behind her. It would be awful if her Elders woke up now, when she was so close.

            Then she started to run. The street was not long, and she was only going to the Port, but she had to get there fast. Her feet hid the pavements with a thud that was instantly muffled by the thick fog which had descended. It was almost impossible to see where she was going.

            “Spook?” said a voice, not one that she recognised instantly. “Spook, is that you?” Spook stopped in her tracks, trying to make out the face of the figure that stood before her.

The End

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