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The next day Hugh had a feeling of dread about the impending arrival, which began when he caught the bus to school and lasted throughout the day. He was so preoccupied that a couple of the teaching staff asked him pointedly whether he had taken his meds, and it also made him careless, during the main break of the morning, in not observing his usual precautions to keep out of the way of everyone
‘Heyoo!’ came the grating voice of Brian Simpkins, a boy in a grade above his who, with his gang of cronies, had always made a point of trying to make his life a misery. Brian was actually small for his age, and far smaller than the burly Hugh, but made up for it with a meanness and ruthlessness known and reluctantly respected by all. Hugh tried to ignore him.
‘Heyoo! I’m talking to yoo, yoo big dumbo yoo! Your laces are undone!’
Hugh looked down at his shoes. ‘No, they’re not,’ he said.
‘An eagle! Look!’ Brian yelled, pointing upwards. ‘No, not there, stupid; higher! Right above you!’
Too late, he registered the tugs at his shoes as two of Brian’s hangers on, Sipho and Ben, undid the laces.
‘They are, now, Heyoo!’ Brian sniggered.
Sighing, Hugh bent down to tie them up again. He should have known better. ‘Free kicks!’ Brian crowed, and he and his cronies managed to get one in each before Hugh went down on his haunches to finish the job. He stood up again rubbing a bruised behind and wondering how to escape. Dimly he thought to himself, as he had done so many times before, that he really should stand up to these bullies, but it simply didn’t seem worth the effort, and he hated all violence.
Fortunately, at that moment, one of the prefects came up and showed signs of remaining in the area. Brian scowled. ‘Lovely chatting to you, Heyoo. See yoooo again soon!’ he said, and they moved off seeking someone else to torment.
After school he had his wits about him more, and crept to peer around the far corner of the building nearest the gate to observe that, as he had suspected, Brian and his friends were planning an ambush. He slipped away and made his escape over the fence on the far side, via a handy tree and a big drop from an overhanging branch on the other side. This had come in useful on a number of previous occasions, and he had perfected a parachute-roll to soften the landing. His bus went past the school gates, and he had a good view of the Brian gang still waiting patiently for him, but filling in some time with bullying anyone else they could get hold of in the meantime.
‘Exactly when and how does it all happen?’ Hugh interrupted his homework to ask his father shortly after the latter had returned from the office.
‘I’m going to fetch them at the airport tomorrow at midday, and bring them straight here, so they’ll see you as soon as you get home from school. Then, later, we’ll take them to her parents.’ He patted Hugh’s shoulder in a comradely way. ‘I don’t mind admitting to you that I’m petrified. Raine and I have become most important to one another, but if she doesn’t like you or you her, or if I simply can’t adapt to her little witch … I mean, to her daughter … or if you two kids tear each others’ eyes out, I simply don’t know what we’re going to do.’
Hugh looked at him fondly. He might not have any of the understanding or wisdom his mother had shown, but he was a really good man and he was constantly doing his best. ‘Don’t worry, Dad,’ he said. ‘If it all comes apart it won’t be for want of me trying my best, I promise you.’
‘Thanks for that, Hugh,’ his father said with feeling. ‘If only I knew the same attitude would be coming from Tyrentia I wouldn’t have a worry in the world, but as things are I’m afraid it will all be up to you.’
That night before he went to sleep Hugh received a message in his mind, or after he had gone to sleep he dreamt that before he had gone to sleep he had received message in his mind. It amounted to the same thing, and was very powerful either way. The message was rather long and very confusing, but it boiled down to three main items:
The first was that he needed to trust his senses. For many years he had been trained not to do so and had become convinced that they were not to be relied upon. The message reminded him, however, of what had happened with the bees, and how on this occasion there could be no question of imagination because what he had been ‘imagining’ had actually had a result which others had been able to see.
The second part was that there was some terribly important task where his help was desperately going to be needed. This is where the message grew too confusing to understand, because it seemed to be trying to go into the nature of what had to be done, but made no sense at all. A section he was able to understand was that he would not be alone in carrying it out; in fact he would have very many helpers, as well as some main ones. One thing emerging strongly was that it was connected in some way with Rhino Valley.
The final message, which came across particularly clearly, was that, by hook or crook, he must stop taking his meds. He must stop completely, and not touch them again. Not ever.
(To be continued with Chapter 3: An Angel and a Witch, and Shocks)
© Colonialist June 2013 (WordPress)