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.