Printed from WriteWords -

The Secret of Spiral Cove 5

by  Freebird

Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012
Word Count: 929
Summary: next installment - all comments appreciated

A cold wind whistled round the outside of the building and sent dry leaves tumbling along the pavement as we all stepped out into the chill of the Autumn evening. World of Oceans had closed its doors to visitors as soon as the police arrived, and we were the only ones around. We must have looked an odd bunch of tourists: two sets of parents – one couple upset and supporting one another, the other pinched and angry – plus two bedraggled boys and a pair of police officers.
“Where’s Trapjaw?” I said, suddenly.
The blonde policewoman turned to me, her face puzzled. “Who?”
“Mr Tapshaw,” I corrected myself. “Our teacher. Shouldn’t you be asking him questions as well?” I thought of the tiny, precise handwriting on the label next to the Spiral Cove picture. The clock is ticking. What did he mean?
“He’s gone back to school to comfort the other children,” she said, although I couldn’t quite picture comfort and Trapjaw in the same sentence. “We’ll go and talk to him tomorrow, at the school. I’m sorry, I should have thought to keep him here for a while. Make you feel a bit safer.”
I shuddered. I would feel a lot safer once he had gone away forever and Miss Bradley was back. But first I needed to figure out how to get Becky out of that picture. I tried to catch Arnold’s eye, wanting to ask him if he’d seen her too. But his parents kept him firmly between them, each holding onto an elbow and marching him along the pavement as quickly as possible towards a car that was waiting on double yellow lines, hazard lights flashing.
“Bye, Arnold,” I whispered, suddenly feeling very cold and small. The police could investigate all they wanted, but they wouldn’t find Becky. I was the only one who knew where she was.
Mum and Dad set off walking, Mum’s hand reaching out to grab mine.
“I can’t go home,” she burst out suddenly. “Wherever Becky is, she must be somewhere nearby. I need to be close to where she disappeared, in case... in case...” She dissolved into sobs, and we had to stop so that Dad could wrap his arms round her.
“Tell you what,” he said, his voice cracking. “Let’s stay in Cliffpool tonight. Find a nice B&B. Treat ourselves, like a holiday.”
“A holiday?” wailed Mum. “Without our daughter?”
Dad’s mouth opened and closed like the fish in the tanks. “Not a holiday, then. Just somewhere to stay so that we can be close to... to Becky. Wherever she is.”
I looked up at the sky, where another bank of ominous clouds was rolling in from the sea, bringing a fresh flurry of raindrops. Glancing back, I saw that the police were still standing outside the glass doors at the main entrance.
“Wait,” I said. “I forgot something.”
Mum called something to me as I ran back towards the police, but her voice was lost in the rising wind, like the faint cry of a gull.
“I need to go back in,” I said, panting. “I left my sketchbook.”
“Can’t it wait, sonny?” said the tall policeman.
I shook my head, pretended that I was about to cry. It wasn’t that difficult; my eyes felt hot, as though something was pressing on them from behind.
“All right. I’ll open up the back entrance for you. Just for a minute, mind. Do you know where it is?”
“Yes.” My skin felt clammy where the sketchbook was pressed against it, still tucked into my waistband. I hoped it wouldn’t fall out, because the police would know I was lying. I didn’t need to go back inside at all; I just wanted to find out how to get in. Because I had a plan.
I watched the policeman’s fingers as he stabbed in the entry code.
I murmured it to myself, picturing the position of his hands on the pad. As soon as the door sprang open, an alarm sounded. The policeman stepped in and punched the same numbers into a second keypad, silencing the shriek of the alarm.
I darted in after him.
“I’ll give you five minutes,” he said. “If you’ve not found it by then, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow.”
I nodded. This back entrance opened into a store cupboard of some kind, but there was a second door at the far end. I peeked out of it, into the Pacific Ocean section.
The place was creepy when it was empty, with only the bluish light from the tanks forming a kind of underwater twilight. My skin crawled. I didn’t want to step in there ever again, but since I would have to pretend that I was looking for my sketchbook, I went in. Looking back to make sure the policeman wasn’t watching, I whipped out my sketchbook and scribbled down the code for the keypad, in case I forgot. 112358. Then I stuffed it back into my trousers.
There was just time for another look at the picture if I wanted. What if it changed again at 7 o’clock? Perhaps that’s what Trapjaw’s note meant – the picture would change every hour, and if I just went back at the right time, I would be able to pull Becky out and everything would be okay. But that was half an hour away, and the policeman was waiting.
No. Although the thought made my belly turn over, I knew there was only one thing to do. I would have to come back later.