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Authors: Helen Oghenegweke

The Amphiblets

BOOK: The Amphiblets
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The Amphiblets

 

 

Written by

 

Helen Oghenegweke

 

 

The Amphiblets

 

 

Written by

 

Helen Oghenegweke

 

Published by H & T Books

 

 

All rights are reserved.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner

whatsoever without written permission from the author.

 

Copyright
©
2015 by Helen Oghenegweke

 

For more information:

 

http://ihelenblog.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/helen.oghenegweke.33

 

 

 

Dedication

 

To the children at

Catton Grove Primary School

who fill me with inspiration and

help keep me young.

Thank you!

 

Prologue
1882

 

In the middle of the night a young woman crept out of bed. While her husband slept, she put on her slippers, tiptoed on to the landing and closed the door behind her. She hurried down the stairs, through a narrow passageway to the back of the old mansion, pausing beside a door. She knocked twice. The door swung open and an old woman hastily pulled her inside.

They exchanged a few words before dragging the single bed to one side to uncover a trap door. The young woman grabbed hold of an iron ring and lifted it, revealing a flight of wooden steps descending into the darkness.

Holding a lantern each, they went down one after the after into the small space beyond where there was another door, leading to a secret room. There was nothing but a small cot and wooden stool inside it. The young woman dashed towards the cot, carefully lifting a small bundle into her arms, cradling it affectionately.

‘Please take good care of my son,’ the young woman whispered, handing her the sleeping baby.

‘I will protect him with my life.’ The old woman went across to the other side of the room and opened another door. She turned and smiled one last time before disappearing through a mile-long tunnel deep beneath the moat surrounding Pondweed Hall. The young woman closed the door, collapsing against it, sobbing loudly. Little did she realise she would never see them again.

1
Tomb Raiders
1990

 

Late, one stormy night, a boat approached the island of Pondweed Hall, coming to rest alongside the bank. The engine was switched off and two figures clambered out; one was enormous, more than seven-feet tall, and the other was shorter and slimmer. They stealthily made their way along an overgrown path, one in front of the other, towards the desolate mansion until they reached a pair of towering, iron gates in a high brick wall extending around the entire island. The gates were secured with a metal padlock and chunky chain.

‘Break the chain, Hugo!’ ordered the Professor.

The fearsome giant grabbed the clinking chain in his massive hands and snapped it as easily as if it were made from rotten wood. Pushing open the squeaky cast-iron gates, they continued on their way, passing the silhouette of Pondweed Hall with its pointed turrets and black gaping windows.

They cut through a cemetery towards the woodland beyond. The Professor took the spade that the giant was holding and thumped it heavily on the ground several times. On the last blow they heard a distinctive clang as the spade struck something metallic. The Professor passed the spade back to the giant.

‘I need you to dig here, Hugo, and scrape the soil off the door hidden beneath.’

Hugo did as he was told, never questioning the Professor. After clearing away the hardened earth, he uncovered a secret metal door.

‘Excellent work, Hugo. I can’t believe it was under my nose for all those years.’

Holding the torch in one hand the Professor reached the other into his pocket and withdrew a thick, bronze key. He knelt and placed the key into the lock and gave it a single turn.

Click!

Hugo lifted the heavy metal doors and the Professor shone a light below revealing a set of white stone steps. Inscribed in the door were the words:

 

This is the tomb of Sir Ivan Pondweed

May he rest in peace

 

Hugo followed the Professor down the steps, leading deep beneath the ground. The narrow passageway was draped with spider webs hanging from the ceiling in thick, grey clusters. The Professor brushed them to one side, his arms rapidly resembling a candyfloss stick. Meanwhile, Hugo got stuck when his shoulders proved too wide for the passageway; eventually he wriggled free and twisted his body to one side in order to avoid it happening again.

Soon, they emerged from the stifling stairwell into a dark circular room. The Professor shone his torch and saw six wooden torches secured to six stone pillars evenly spaced out. He fumbled in his pocket before finding what he was looking for. Using his lighter, he lit them all. The orange flames immediately brought warmth and comfort into the room. 

‘Ivan’s tomb!’ cried the Professor, in astonishment.

His eyes fell upon a white, stone tomb raised on a platform. Spellbound, the Professor moved towards it, oblivious to everything else around him. He stroked his hand over the tomb’s lid as if it were alive, taking note of the smooth, chalky surface. His journey had come to an end. At last he had found Sir Ivan Pondweed’s tomb – his final resting place.

He was less interested in the rest of the room where the fine details of a carved and decoratively painted ceiling of frogs and lily pads could be seen. Hugo noticed though, and stared open mouthed at the spectacular sight. He rotated slowly on his cumbersome feet and his hands, the size of tennis rackets, gently stroked the smooth chalky walls. Hugo appeared older than his thirty-eight years for he had pure white hair, currently grey with spider webs, and given the substantial size of his head, his brown, beady eyes were remarkably small.

The brightly painted frogs were carved in stone with round, bulging eyes so lifelike one would expect them to blink at any moment. Their webbed fingers and toes stretched wide as if waiting to bounce from one wall to another. In Hugo’s vivid imagination the frogs were springing to life and dancing about the room. His daydreams were quickly interrupted.

‘Come and help me, Hugo!’ It wasn’t a request but an order.

Hugo immediately went to see what the Professor wanted.

The Professor was studying a picture painted on the tomb’s lid; it was the image of a man he recognised – a man he once knew, with frog-like eyes and the same webbed hands as the man in the painting. The inscription on the tomb read:
died in 1871
,which was over a hundred years ago.

The Professor pulled back his hood to reveal a nose far too long for his gaunt, narrow face, and his paper-thin lips set in a straight line an inch and a half above an extremely pointed jaw. He asked Hugo to remove the lid, which he did despite its hefty weight. A rush of stale air escaped with a hissing sound from the tomb. Hugo coughed and stumbled, accidentally losing his grip on the slab of stone. It slipped from his grasp, as if covered in butter, before crashing to the ground and breaking in half.

As the sound diminished, there came a chilling silence. Hugo covered his head with his arms and froze, expecting the Professor to strike him was normal when he did something wrong. But nothing happened and a moment later, Hugo peered between his fingers to see the Professor had stepped over the broken slab and was now peering inside the stone box.

Rotten fabric clung to a skeleton facing upwards inside the tomb, its arms folded across its chest. The skull had hauntingly hollow eye sockets as black as the night.

Hugo had no idea what a skeleton was, but was happy to help the Professor put the remains of it into two sizeable bags and carry them to the boat once they were finished.

 

2
The Beast

 

They arrived home to the Professor’s small, secluded island, away from prying eyes. Both were relieved to be back in the familiar surroundings of the old, dusty mansion. Once inside, the giant went upstairs to have a hot bath, while the Professor retired to his study in the cellar.

The next evening, while Hugo was in bed, the Professor had a visitor. He went to answer the door with a lantern in his hand.

‘Good evening, gentlemen.’ The Professor stepped back as two men staggered in, carrying a weighty bundle between them, which flopped over their arms like a humongous slug of fabric. It was obviously heavy. The Professor closed the door behind them.

‘This one is only a few hours old,’ said the man with a triangular-shaped skull, dark bushy eyebrows and a mop of greasy black hair.

‘Good,’ smiled the Professor. ‘Follow me.’

They entered the cellar and a few minutes later they left, as was their usual custom.

‘I’ll see you both again, at the same time next week,’ called the Professor. 

Once the men had gone, the Professor headed back to the cellar where a light bulb dangled delicately on a thin exposed wire, lighting up a small, square, concrete area. To his right there were two metal doors. Unlike the main house upstairs, this area was very clean. Resting in the corner were a wooden broom, dustpan and brush. Humming gently in the corner stood a big, white freezer.

The Professor stepped over the bundle lying on the ground and unlocked the first door. He switched on a light and lifted one end of the bundle, shuffling backwards as he proceeded to drag it across the ground. He entered a passage, passing four other doors on his right, each with a small, high, barred window.

The Professor ignored the vile stench as he paused for a moment to steady his breathing outside the fifth and last door. Retrieving a clinking bunch of keys off the wall, linked together by a thick, metal ring, he selected the correct one to open the door.

He shuffled backwards into the cell, stopping to put on a dim light, which struggled to illuminate the small, enclosed area. The back wall was actually the front of a broad cage extending into the darkness beyond.

The Professor dropped the bundle with a thud close to the cage and proceeded to select a long sharp knife from a shelf. Kneeling over the bundle, he began to unwrap it. He leant over the bundle and, using a sawing motion, started to cut it up. And then, when he had finished, he stood and approached the cage.

In the dark shadows came a frantic sniffing, as something scurried speedily along the ground. Then, once it was close to the metal bars of the cage, a ferocious beast, reared up on short hind legs, standing taller than the Professor. It looked formidable, with its thick yellowy skin covering its massive body. Scales ran along its back and elongated tail and its alligator-like mouth was wide, exposing grisly rows of spacious teeth. A ghastly sound erupted from its thick throat, wild and enraged as it took a swipe through the bars of the cage.

‘Someone’s upset,’ laughed the Professor. ‘Don’t worry, I have your favourite meal!’ With that he lifted up a disgusting piece of flesh: a human arm complete with a hand and fingers.

BOOK: The Amphiblets
10.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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