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Tyrentia looked him up and down. ‘What’s all this nonsense I heard about you being bullied? Surely that’s crazy? I mean, with the size of you it just can’t be possible.’
‘I do get picked on,’ Hugh admitted. ‘The thing is, the meds make me seem slow and stupid. I think they also make it that I don’t really care enough to resist. I hate anything to do with fighting, anyway. Have you never had something like that happen to you?’
‘A few have tried it,’ snorted Tyrentia. ‘They only do it once, though. I just let myself go into berserk mode until they call it quits. The only way they could stop me would be to knock me out.’ She turned her head to glare at him. ‘You’re pathetic. You really need to get a life. For starters, lose the drugs completely.’
‘I already have, as of this morning,’ Hugh announced, and found himself telling her about the dream and what he had done after that. During his recital, he become distracted by what seemed to be a couple of the Shade people, doing something mysterious at the foot of a tree, and he tailed off. Tyrentia brought him up smartly. ‘Don’t do that!’ she snapped. ‘If you can’t keep your wits about you, you’ll be back taking your drugs before you know what hit you. Anyway, what’s this about RhinoValley?’
Hugh had to explain everything that had happened over the weekend, while she listened without further interruption other than to glare at him again if his attention wandered in any way. ‘Well, that brings it more-or-less up to date,’ Hugh finally finished.
‘Seriously, seriously weird,’ Tyrentia commented. ‘Things certainly seem a lot less boring around here than I was afraid they would be. Do you really mean to tell me that you couldn’t see any signs of the Folk in the whole of the Valley except a few of the ones you call Shades? I call them Blackies. That bee-mind thing is simply out-of-sight-something-else, and I wonder what that voice egging them on could have been? Then, the messages. That would seem like the … the … fairies,’ – she said this almost defiantly – ‘are trying to talk to you.’
Hugh glanced towards the house. ‘I think we are being stared at,’ he commented.
Donald and Raine were standing inside the sitting room window, regarding them with expressions of the greatest astonishment. Then the two vanished, to reappear at the front door and come towards the swing seat. ‘I take it you two are getting along?’ Donald asked, a little doubtfully.
‘We find we have more in common than you can possibly imagine,’ Hugh replied, and Tyrentia gave her second little giggle of the day. Her mother looked at her with the sort of expression it usually takes an unexpected jab with something sharp to achieve.
Soon, they set off for the home of Tyrentia’s grandparents, a bit farther inland up the highway between Durban and the capital city of Pietermaritzburg and then some distance along a side road lined with trees. They went through electronic security gates, which were normal in these suburbs, to a double-story cottage on the hillside. It had views towards rolling hills so covered in flowering trees and shrubs that neighbouring homes were almost completely hidden.
The older couple who greeted them both looked very much like Raine and like one another, and could have been her older brother and sister. Donald introduced them to Hugh as Mr and Mrs Flynn, which seemed strange. After the greetings were over he whispered to Tyrentia, ‘Why have you and your Mom still got that name? What about your father …?’
Her face went into lines of fury. ‘I don’t want to **** talk about it. Ever!’ she raged, and stormed off inside, leaving him to help Donald bring in the suitcases.
(To be continued with Section (i) of Chapter 4: School, Clashes, and a Gathering)
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