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Chuck carried Toby out into the grounds and placed him on the floor beneath a tree at the end of the clearing opposite the building. His arms ached as he carried the boy, who was heavier than Chuck had originally thought. After placing him on the floor, he paced up and down, occasionally glancing at the building, as if that would reveal something. There wasn’t a sound, beyond him walking and breathing. The house looked as still as it had done when they first approached in, and he wanted to know what was going on. Was Fiona okay? What would he do if she wasn’t? He didn’t want to think about the idea that she could be hurt, or worse, but as the seconds turned to minutes his mind started wandering.
He noticed that the air around him wasn’t cold, and that was strange. Back in London it was December, the cold winter chill hanging in the air, but there was none of that in the pocket world. It was a comfortable temperature, a nice spring day, even though it was the dead of night. He looked down at the boy, and realised that if he hadn’t stopped to see if the boy was okay, then he wouldn’t be in the mess he’d found himself in. None of this was real to him only an hour earlier, and everything had happened so fast. He’d definitely missed the coach home, though, that was certain.
The boy started to stir, and Chuck stopped pacing to look at him as Toby sat up and put one hand to his head.
“Are you okay?” he asked the boy.
Toby looked up at him, his eyes bulging and shaking, tears forming in the corners. He looked at Chuck with complete fear.
“Don’t be scared, it’s okay. I’m a friend of Fiona’s,” he said.
Toby was frozen in his spot, staring up at the strange man who he kind of remembered from London, but wasn’t completely sure on. He looked just as scared as Toby felt. They eyed each other up for a long time.
“Fiona is inside,” Chuck said. “She told me to wait out here with you.”
The boy looked around, noticing where he was fully for the first time since he awoke. There was a pain echoing in his head that he couldn’t quite understand, like he’d been hit over the head with something. His brain was still foggy, he just knew there was enough reason to be scared.
“What’s happening?” Toby said, his voice crackling with each word.
“I don’t really know, to be honest. Fiona brought us back here, and then we went inside and something didn’t seem right, so she told me to stay out here while she checked it out.”
“No,” Toby said, his eyes fixed on the house. “I want to go home.”
“We are home.”
“No. Home. I want my home. I want mummy. I don’t want to be here. I don’t like it here. Where’s mummy.”
Toby’s face was pleading at him, and Chuck was sure the boy was going to start crying again. He didn’t.
“I don’t really know what’s going on, but I think it’s best that we wait for Fiona to come back.”
“There’s a monster in there,” he said pointing to the building. “That’s why I left. We shouldn’t stay here.”
“What monster?” Chuck said. “One of those spider things?”
“What? It’s a shadow person.”
“A shadow person, it’s what they kept in the basement. George broke it out and I ran away from it, and then I ended up in the outside.”
“So you weren’t running away from the school?”
“No, I like it here. I was running away from the shadow person. They’re deadly.”
“And now it’s loose out in the academy. I have to warn Fiona about that. She might not realise what’s happened.”
“Okay. I’m going to come with you. Fiona isn’t safe in there alone.”
“No, you should stay out here.”
“I’m not stupid. I can look after myself.”
William thought back to when he first met Toby, standing out in the middle of the street crying his eyes out and holding his teddy bear. The bear that he hadn’t seen since Fiona had carried the child through the underground. He silently wished to himself that he hadn’t dropped it anywhere. Then he realised that Toby at least had some magical ability, so was probably better off going in that he was.”
“That thing you created. The spider thing. What was that?”
“The Creature. That’s what I call him. He’s my friend and I brought him with me to the outside to keep me safe once I got lost.”
“Okay, that explains somethings. Okay. You can come with me, but we have to be quick. Do you have one of those knives?”
“No, I don’t have a wand yet. I’m not old enough. You get them when you turn fifteen. I’m still five years away.”
“Great, we’ll just go inside and find Fiona and she’ll know what to do. Are you sure you’re okay. I mean you did try to run away earlier.”
Toby nodded. With more hesitation than he cared to admit, Chuck walked towards the building, and Toby followed close behind. The entranceway was empty, just Chuck knew it would be and there was a cold silence hanging in the air. The candles had been extinguished, leaving the moonlight from outside the only thing lighting up the place, with plenty of shadows hiding under the stairs and in the corners of the room.
“You know you said there was a shadow person? Will I be able to see them?”
“Yes. They live in the shadows, but you can see them. They just look like a shadow without a person.”
“Okay, right. That sounds kind of terrifying.”
They moved around the room, their steps echoing around them.
“The basement is over there,” Toby said. “I think that’s where it will be.”
“Okay, stay close behind me. I’m guessing you can’t magic up a fireball to light the way?”
Toby shook his head and Chuck carried on walking, trying to remember what happened to the torch that Fiona had given to him in the tunnels. Had he dropped that along with the bear? They made their way through the room and to the stairs that led to the basement. Chuck could only see the first few steps before darkness covered everything. He took a deep breath, and with shaking feet and a speeding heart he took the first step into the basement.
To be continued…
Part seven is available here: https://ashleymanning.com/2023/02/03/magic-in-london-whistling-part-seven/! Don’t forget to subscribe to never miss a post:
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