It was one of those summer evenings that seem to exist only in fiction or in memory. The sky, still blue overhead, turned pink and orange towards the horizon and the gorse and heather of the moorland glowed in the light of the setting sun. Swifts wheeled and dived in the clear air, calling as they hunted for flying insects. A faint breeze came in off the sea and wafted the scent of flowers across the garden. Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart leaned further back in his deckchair and sighed with satisfaction. It was still early in the holiday, but, so far, everything had gone even better than he had hoped. The drive down on the previous day had been uneventful and the rented cottage was clean and comfortable, with up-to-date appliances that included a large refrigerator, much to the relief of Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart who had insisted that they stock up on cold meats, cheese and salad because she didn’t intend to spend the holiday slaving over a hot stove. The shops in the nearest town had provided a ready supply of both food and drink, all of which was now packed away in the pantry. They hadn’t ventured very far afield on the first full day of the holiday. All of them, especially young Kate, had been tired from the previous day’s journey, so they had left the car on the drive and walked through the fields to the shore, where Kate had amused herself with clambering around the rock pools and fishing out specimens of sea life for her parents to identify, before replacing them carefully and turning her attention to trying to find fossils among the pebbles. Lunch had been a picnic on a bench overlooking the sea, after which they had paddled and then returned to the cottage for an afternoon in the garden, with dinner a “first day treat” as the Brigadier had put it, of fish and chips. Now the Brigadier and Kate were sitting in the garden, while Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart ran Kate’s bath. The Brigadier smiled as he looked at his daughter. She had spread out a book and a notebook on the table in front of her and was alternately closing and opening her eyes, apparently reading something from the notebook and then attempting to memorise it. Her father watched as she looked at the page and then closed her eyes, her lips moving as she silently repeated, or tried to repeat, what she had seen on the page. Horace, Kate’s teddy bear, who had been her loyal and constant companion since her first birthday, sat nearby holding the pages of the printed book open with his paws. Kate opened her eyes again and saw her father looking at her.
“What are you up to?” he asked.
“I’m trying to memorise these car number plates,” was the surprising reply.
“Really?” replied the Brigadier, trying not to show how startled he was, “where did you get that idea from?"
“It says in my book that it’s important to test your observation skills,” replied Kate, moving Horace to one side and turning the book towards her father. “So I wrote down the number plates of the cars in the carpark while you were in the shops, and what the cars looked like and I’m testing myself.”
“I see...” the Brigadier picked up the book and looked at the cover.
The cover illustration showed a cartoonish figure in a trenchcoat and trilby lurking behind a wall while another figure in a black and white striped jumper and a mask went by with a sack labelled “Swag” over its shoulder. The title, in bright yellow letters, read “The Junior Detective’s Handbook.” The Brigadier smiled to himself, then straightened his face hurriedly, Kate didn’t like people laughing at her, and it wasn’t really fair to make fun. Instead he said,
“Well, that should keep you busy! But don’t try your brain too hard, we are on holiday, you know.”
“Yes, I know, but it’s fun learning to do things like this and it might be useful, you never know,” said Kate.
“Indeed you don’t,” replied her father, “but,” as a call came through the bathroom window, “you’ll have to leave it for tonight. Off you go and you and Horace can get down to work again tomorrow.”
Kate protested half-heartedly, but then picked up her books and her bear and offered her cheek for her father’s kiss.
“Sleep well, lassie, see you in the morning.”
Kate went into the house and the Brigadier put his hands behind his head and looked at the sky, chuckling to himself. So now she was going to be a detective? Well, it seemed a harmless enough diversion. The Brigadier got up and went into the house, returning to his seat with a bottle of brandy and two glasses, which he set down on the table. He poured himself a generous measure and sipped it slowly, watching the birds that continued to dive and soar overhead. Shortly afterwards, Doris Lethbridge Stewart appeared at the back door. Her husband held out a glass of brandy to her, which she accepted gratefully as she sat down next to him. For a few moments, neither spoke. The still of the evening seemed to have cast a spell of silence on them and on the garden. Eventually the Brigadier said,
“So, our budding detective is all tucked up for the night?”
“That wretched book! I’m almost sorry we let her spend her tokens on it.” She sighed, then laughed again. “I did mention that people might not be keen on having their car number plates and details recorded and she said that was OK, she was just practicing and she knew not to leave any incriminating paperwork!”
The Brigadier laughed at this.
“My word. Well, if we go to the castle tomorrow as planned, she won’t have much chance to nose after number plates.”
“No, she’ll be back to imagining knights in shining armour.”
“Mm. Is she asleep?”
“Not yet, I said she could have two chapters of Biggles, but then she must lie down. I expect she’ll fall asleep over it.”
“Mm. I …” whatever the Brigadier was about to say was forgotten as the doorbell rang.
The Lethbridge Stewarts looked at each other, bemused, then the Brigadier got up and went through to answer the door. His wife set down her glass and followed him as far as the hall.
Two men were waiting on the doorstep when the Brigadier opened the door. They were dressed in dark suits and one held a folder under his arm. The man closest to the door was slim and of medium build. His colleague, if that was what he was, was taller and much more heavily built, his shirt collar was straining to contain his muscular neck. As soon as the door opened, the first man said in a low voice,
“Brigadier Alastair Lethbridge Stewart?”
“Yes,” replied the Brigadier, looking curiously at his unexpected visitors.
“Miles Earnshaw. My credentials,” he passed a card to the Brigadier, who examined it and handed it back. “We need you to come with us immediately Sir.”
“Why?” asked the Brigadier, suspiciously.
The agent’s identification had appeared to be in order, but, even for the leader of UNIT, being whisked away from his holiday by men in dark suits wasn’t an everyday occurrence.
“I’m sorry, Sir, there isn’t time, we’ll brief you en route.” The man turned to his companion, who shifted the folder under his arm and nodded.
“Oh, very well, “ replied the Brigadier, “I’ll just tell my wife and then I will be at your disposal.”
“Thank you, Sir,” said the man who had introduced himself as Earnshaw, stepping back from the door.
The Brigadier pushed the door to and went back along the hall to speak to Doris. Keeping his voice low, so as not to disturb Kate, (assuming that she hadn’t already been disturbed by the doorbell) he explained what was happening and that he would have to leave them for a while. His wife was understandably concerned,
“But Alistair, didn’t they tell you how long you would be away?”
“No, not at present.”
“Well, call us as soon as you can and tell us what’s happening, as much as you can, at any rate. I suppose it was too much to expect that we might actually have a whole holiday to ourselves to enjoy.”
They kissed and the Brigadier murmured, “I’m sorry my dear,”
to which Doris made no reply, but watched her husband as he went out of the front door. She looked at the back of the door for a moment and then turned and ran lightly up the stairs to check on Kate. Outside the door, the Brigadier said to his escorts,
“Well, gentlemen, shall we?” and followed them as they led the way to a car that was parked on the opposite side of the road.
Kate had been on the point of nodding off when the doorbell rang, startling her into wakefulness. She sat for a moment, listening as the door opened and she heard her father speaking. She considered going to the top of the stairs to listen, but decided not to risk it and, instead, got out of bed and went over to the window. Standing to one side of the window, she pulled the curtain back just enough so she could see out. Through the open window, she could hear a man talking, telling her father that he had to go with them. Kate stifled a sob of disappointment. Was it too much to ask that she could have Mummy and Dad together at the same time? She couldn’t see the man who was speaking, he was hidden by the porch, but she could see his companion, the big man with the folder. Grabbing her notebook and pencil from the dressing table, Kate wrote down a description of the man. She could hear Dad talking to Mummy in the hall then the men stepped back and Dad went with them down the drive. Kate could see a car parked a short distance away. She leaned closer, trying to see the number plate and the colour of the paintwork, which was difficult in the fading light. Kate wrote down as much as she could see, then, hearing her mother’s footsteps, dived back into bed and picked up Horace, holding him closely as she fought her disappointment.
“So you are awake,” said her mother.
“Yes, I heard the doorbell, is..?”
“I’m sorry, darling,” said Doris, sitting down on her daughter’s bed, “I know it’s not fair on you, but I hope he won’t be gone for long.”
“It’s not fair on US,” said Kate her voice muffled as she hugged her mother, “I know I’m not supposed to make a fuss, but…”
“It’s alright to be upset, darling. Dad’s job is important, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to miss him. Now, I need a hot drink and I think there might be a couple of scones left over from lunch. How about you put your dressing gown on and come and sit with me on my bed, we can have a late night picnic and have a look at some pictures of the castle.”
“Ok,” said Kate, sighing a little.
“Good girl. Don’t forget Horace, I’m sure bears like scones!”
This drew a small smile from Kate, who got out of bed again and put on her dressing gown and slippers, then picked up Horace and followed her mother out of the room. Having tucked Kate up in the big double bed in the main bedroom, Doris Lethbridge Stewart went downstairs and put a pan of milk on the stove to make cocoa. The smile she had shown to Kate faded as she stood and watched the milk. She knew how important Alistair’s job was and she had known that marrying a solider would mean missing out on much that other families could take for granted. She just wished, now and again, that his job wasn’t quite that important. Shaking herself inwardly, Doris poured out the milk and set about buttering the scones for her and Kate’s restoring snack.
The Brigadier had been ushered to the back of the car and the large man, who had still not been introduced, got in beside him. Earnshaw got into the driver’s seat and, as the car pulled away from the kerb, said “do put your seatbelt on, Sir, we may have to speed a bit and the roads are narrow round here.” His passenger, who had been in the act of fastening his seatbelt anyway, frowned at this, but said nothing. They drove on for a few minutes in silence, out of the village and towards the main road. Eventually, the Brigadier said,
“You have some papers for me? I’d prefer to be briefed before we arrive.”
Earnshaw looked at him in the rearview mirror and said,
“Of course, Sir, how remiss of me. You’ve got the folder there, Thomas?”
The big man nodded and passed the folder to the Brigadier, then reached into his pocket and drew out a handkerchief.
The Brigadier opened the file and stared at it in astonishment. It was empty. He turned to the man next to him and said, in outraged tones,
“Is this your idea of a joke? What is the meaning of…”
but his words were stifled as the man seized the back of his neck and the handkerchief, which contained a pad of cotton wool that had been soaked in chloroform, was clamped across his mouth and nose. The Brigadier struggled, but was quickly subdued by the drug. His eyes closed and his head lolled against the man sitting next to him. Thomas, if that was his name, smiled grimly and nodded to his associate who had glanced in the mirror. He checked that the Brigadier was breathing and moved him so his head wouldn’t fall forwards, then smiled again and shoved the chloroformed handkerchief in a bag by his feet. His associate echoed the smile as he turned the car around and headed back towards the village. The two men and their captive drove through the village and on towards the coast, the headlights dimmed to attract the minimum amount of attention.
Kate woke with a start and looked around. For a moment, she was disorientated, until she remembered that she had joined her mother the previous night, but could not remember getting into her own again bed afterwards. She hitched herself up against the headboard and had another look around her parent’s room, the events of the night coming back to her as she did so. Horace had somehow made his way under the pillow, so she fished him out and hugged him as she considered what had happened and what might happen in the next few days. The sound of crockery from the kitchen caught her attention and she put Horace on the pillow and searched under the bed for her slippers, then went downstairs to find her mother. Doris Lethbridge Stewart was laying the table for breakfast when her daughter appeared. She pulled out a chair and said,
“There you are, darling. Come and sit down. I’ve got your cornflakes and by the time you’ve finished those the toast will be ready.”
Kate said, “thank you,” in a small voice and sat down. Her mother sat down beside her and put a hand on her back.
“I know, darling.”
“Do you think he’ll call this morning? Should we stay in?”
Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart had been considering this very question.
“I don’t think he’s likely to call this morning, he’ll probably be busy being briefed about whatever it is, but perhaps he might have time in the afternoon. Why don’t we leave the castle for today and go back to the beach this morning? You could take your kite. Then we can come back for lunch and go out in the garden for the afternoon, and, if he hasn’t called by the evening, I’ll ring HQ and ask them if they can tell us what’s happening. What do you think?”
Kate slurped a spoonful of cornflakes that had had rather more milk in it than she had expected and then said,
Her mother heaved an inward sigh of relief. She was as keen as Kate was to know what was happening, but she didn’t want either Kate or herself to be fretting in the house all day. She smiled and stood up.
“Right, that’s the plan then. Would you like jam on your toast?”
Doris turned to the countertop to spread her daughter’s toast and to pour herself a second cup of coffee. At least the beach was relatively close to the cottage and it really wasn’t likely that Alistair would have a chance to phone before the afternoon. She would never get used to these sudden departures, though. Stifling a sigh, Doris passed Kate her toast and sat down again. She just wished she knew where he had gone.
The first thing the Brigadier became aware of when he woke was that he was lying on a cold, hard, surface. He put out a hand and pressed downwards. The floor. He was lying on the floor. He opened his eyes, then blinked and closed them again as the light seemed to stab straight through his retinas. His head ached and there was a vile taste in his mouth. If he hadn’t known better, he would have thought he had the mother and father of a hangover. The Brigadier tried to raise himself, but his head swam and he was forced to lay flat again. After a moment or two, he opened his eyes again, cautiously, and looked around just enough to locate where the floor met a wall. His head barely raised, he inched slowly towards the wall, then gradually hitched himself up into a sitting position, eyes closed, gasping with the effort. While he waited for the nausea to subside, he tried to piece together his memories of the previous evening. He could remember being in the garden with Doris. Kate had gone to bed. Then … yes, those men. He had got in a car with two men who had security ID and… Suddenly the details of his kidnapping came flooding back. Chloroform. No wonder he felt so lousy. And now he was … where? He opened his eyes again, slowly, pausing to let them become accustomed to the light. A bare, windowless room revealed itself to him. The light was coming from two bulbs, suspended from the ceiling. The floor was formed of ancient-looking boards and the walls were plastered and distempered in a nicotine yellow shade above a dark wooden chair rail, with peeling, dark green wallpaper below. The door was as dark and gnarled as the floorboards. It seemed to be an old building then, he thought. Was he upstairs or downstairs? Impossible to tell. And where was this building? His last memory was of the car turning out of a side road, but that could have been a red herring. Having got his breath back, the Brigadier got up, cautiously, and staggered over to the door. There was no handle on the inside, and a panel had been nailed over the keyhole. Whoever it was was taking no chances. He pushed against the door, but, as he expected, it didn’t move. The Brigadier sat down again, his back against the wall. He felt in his pockets, but his penknife had been removed. Presumably his captors would inform him of their purpose at some point. For the time being, all he could do was wait.
After breakfast, Doris and Kate had gathered up towels, mats to sit on and Kate’s kite and made their way down to the beach. The surface was mostly shingle, but there was a short stretch of sand that provided a suitable launching site for the kite. Having helped Kate get the kite airborne, Doris sat and watched her daughter as she pulled gently on the strings, making the kite weave to and fro. A fighter plane passed overhead, flying low, and Kate squeaked and nearly dropped the handle. Her mother got up and when to help her get the kite back up again.
“Do you think it would have hit the plane?” asked Kate, breathlessly.
“I don’t think so, but it was very low. I think the pilots must practice low flying over the moors,” said Doris, steering the kite back on an updraft and then handing the handle back to her daughter.
“Oh! It looked so close I was scared it would get tangled up,” replied Kate.
“It did look very close, didn’t it? But I don’t think the kite is that high.” Doris put a hand on her daughter’s cheek. The sun was warm but there was a stiff breeze on the beach.
“Are you warm enough? Why don’t we walk along for a bit and get warmed up, we can put the kite up again later on if you like.”
“Ok,” said Kate, winding in the string until the kite came down. Once it had been brought into land, Doris packed it away in the large raffia bag that she used for carrying their necessities for the beach and she and Kate set off towards the shingle and the cliffs. They hadn’t gone far before they met a man who was walking his dog, an elderly Labrador, that wheezed over to Kate and, once his owner had confirmed his friendliness, graciously accepted Kate’s patting his head. The owner looked over to where the plane had passed.
“You see that plane go over?”
“Yes,” replied Doris, “are they always so low?”
“Not always, but pretty often. They come over from that base down the coast and practice over the moors. It’s got to be done, I s’pose, but it’s ruddy noisy when they do it.”
“Ah, yes, I wondered if it was that,” said Doris, “I suppose they do need to practice somewhere.”
“Yup,” replied the man, “Well, good day to you, come on Grip!”
this last to the dog, who left Kate and wobbled uncertainly back to his owner. Doris returned the good wishes and she and Kate when on their way, with Kate stopping now and again to examine an interesting looking shell, or a stone that looked as if it might have a fossil inside. Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart was just thinking they should turn back when her daughter called and waved from a short distance away.
“Mummy! Look at this!”
Doris picked her way across the shingle to where Kate was waiting.
“What have you found?”
“I don’t know. It looks like footprints. Look.”
Kate pointed to the sand. Looking down, Doris could see some indentations, about the size of a largish man’s footprint, but with three segments at the front, where a boot print would have been rounded.
“How odd,” she said, “they do look a bit like footprints, but I’m not sure they can be.”
“I know, they are such a funny shape, but the pattern is like footprints, they go up over there,” Kate pointed to the shingle bar close to the bottom of the cliff, “but they either run out there or they don’t show up in the stones.” Uncertain as to whether she should say what she was thinking out loud, she said, cautiously, “they look a bit like dinosaur footprints,” then shot a glance at her mother to see if she was laughing at her. To her surprise, her mother bent forward and looked more closely at the marks.
“They do a bit, don’t they,” she said, “where do they come from?”
“I’m not sure, maybe over there,” Kate pointed to an opening at the bottom of the cliff, “but there’s so many stones it’s hard to tell. I wonder what they are?”
“I’m afraid I don’t know, darling, but I think we should probably start to go back, it’s getting on for lunch time…”
“And Dad might call. Yes, let’s go. You didn’t bring the camera did you, I wondered if we could check in the wildlife book to see what might make marks like this.”
“No I didn’t. But you’ve got your notebook, why not draw a picture of them, that would be just as good.”
Kate pulled the notebook and pencil out of the pocket of her dungarees and drew a quick impression of one of the mysterious marks, with, at her mother’s suggestion, a picture of her hand next to it to give an idea of scale. That done, she tucked her notebook away again and took Doris’ hand for the walk back along the beach. Kate was, as Doris had regretfully said, getting ‘a bit old’ for holding hands, but something about the day and the night before made her want the comfort and reassurance of her mother’s hand. For her part, Doris was glad of the distraction offered by the mysterious “footprints” to take Kate’s mind off her father’s absence. Mother and daughter walked back to the cottage in companionable silence. Once inside, Doris sent Kate upstairs to wash while she heated some soup for their lunch. Both of them had avoided looking at the telephone, but both of them were waiting with equal impatience for it to ring.
The Brigadier had no idea how long he had been confined. As well as his penknife, his boots, his watch and his belt had been removed, so, not only would he have no chance of fashioning a weapon to use against his captors, he had no means of telling the time. He had tested the door, floor and walls for any signs of weakness and found none. He had paced the length and width of the room, trying to work out who would have known where he was and why they would have laid hands on him in this way. Eventually he decided that there was no point in wasting his energy and had sat down next to the door, his back, once again, against the wall. A sudden noise outside brought him to his feet. He heard the key turn in the lock and positioned himself nearer to the door, ready to jump if he was given the chance. The door opened and a man came in, holding a gun. He had barely got through the door when the Brigadier sprang, catching the man’s wrist and attempting to wrestle the gun out of his hand while trying to force him to the floor. The man cried out and, almost instantly, the Brigadier was grabbed by two other men and wrenched away. The men caught one arm each and forced the Brigadier against the wall, while he struggled frantically and shouted,
“Get your hands off me. Who are you? I demand to know the meaning of this!”
The man he had tackled got up off the floor and retrieved his gun. He looked disdainfully at the Brigadier and then went to the door and called “get in here and shut him up, will you?” Two more men entered, one of them the gigantic “Thomas” who put his hand around the Brigadier’s throat and squeezed, leaning forward and hissing, “One more sound out of you and I’ll break your neck.” At this the Brigadier stopped struggling. The man he knew as Earnshaw said,
“Good. That’s better. It’s clear you don’t care about your own safety, but you might think of your wife. I’m sure she wouldn’t want you to get killed so pointlessly.”
The Brigadier glared at his assailant, but another squeeze of his throat kept him silent. “Earnshaw” drew two lengths of cloth from his pocket. He used the first to gag the Brigadier and the second to blindfold him. While he did this he said, quietly, “You can demand all you like, but you will get precisely as much information as we choose to give you, when we choose to give it.” He stood back and nodded to his associates then said,
“As you’ve decided to be a nuisance, we’ll have to put you somewhere a bit more secure. Bring him along.” The other men dragged the Brigadier away and, still holding him firmly by the arms, led him down a hallway and down two flights of stairs. The Brigadier tried to gather any possible clues about his surroundings, but without much success. The second flight of stairs felt cold to his stockinged feet. Stone, or possibly concrete. Were they going to a basement? The floor felt equally cold. Almost certainly a basement or cellar. While he was gathering these thoughts, “Earnshaw” said, “sit down, Lethbridge Stewart,” and the Brigadier felt himself being forced downwards. He bent his knees and was relieved to find himself sitting on what felt like a chair. Ropes were passed around his wrists and ankles, holding him in place, then at last, the blindfold was removed and the Brigadier could see that he was in what must have been a coal cellar, probably long out of use. The walls were of brick, as was the low ceiling and the light came from an electric lantern, held aloft by one of the gang. The Brigadier was in no doubt that he was dealing with gangsters. The leader, the man who called himself Earnshaw, gave his gun to one of his associates and unfolded another chair, placing it close to the Brigadier. He sat down, looking directly into his prisoner’s eyes. The Brigadier returned the stare. After a moment, the gangster laughed.
“Yes, you are a hard nut, aren’t you? It won’t do you any harm to be out of the way down here for a bit. You were demanding to know who we are. I’m not going to tell you. I am going to tell you why you’re here, though. My colleagues and I are going to do some business in this area in the next day or so and the last thing we need is a UNIT commander hanging around the place. So the first reason you’re here is to keep you from meddling in what doesn’t concern you. The second reason, well, we have some associates who are coming in on the business with us and they suggested that we could take advantage of having you here and ransom you, after the deal has gone through.”
The Brigadier glared and his captor smiled,
“Oh, you’re thinking, ‘UNIT doesn’t respond to blackmail’ aren’t you? Well, you’d better hope they do, because, if they don’t, I’ve decided to let my associates have you. You don’t know them personally,” he said, in answer to the Brigadier’s questioning expression, “but you have met some of their … ah… family and they are very keen to meet you.” He stood up and placed his chair against the wall.
“For the time being you can stay down here.”
He beckoned to his men, who followed him up the stairs. The man with the lantern went last, then the Brigadier was left in darkness. He pulled against the ropes, but there was no give in them. He closed his eyes again, to save them from the strain of trying to see in the dark. One thought gave him some comfort. His captors had mentioned his wife, but they hadn’t mentioned Kate. At all costs he must keep them from finding out about his daughter, in case they decided that they needed extra leverage.
To Kate and Doris, the afternoon seemed endless. Kate had walked the short distance to the village post office and come back with a large bag of rhubarb and custard sweets, which she and her mother had shared as they had played scrabble. Kate had tried, and failed, to distract herself with number plates. The wildlife guide hadn’t yielded any results to match the footprints on the beach either. Eventually Doris decided that enough was enough and went to the hall. The cottage was equipped with a payphone which could accept external calls, saving guests the trouble of having to use the phone box at the post office. Doris took out her address book and dialed a long number. She waited, then a voice at the other end said,
“UNIT Headquarters, Corporal Scott speaking, please state your business.”
“Corporal,” said Doris with relief, “This is Doris Lethbridge Stewart. May I speak to Captain Yates?”
“I’m sorry, Ma’am, the Captain isn’t available, I can offer Sergeant Benton?”
Despite her concern, Doris smiled at the idea of being offered the Sergeant, but just said,
“Yes, thank you, if I could speak to him.”
“Right away, Ma’am.”
There was a buzzing on the line and then,
“Sergeant Benton here, Ma’am, how can I help?”
“Sergeant.” Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart tried to gather her thoughts and not sound like an hysterical woman making a fuss about nothing. “Yesterday evening my husband was escorted from here by two men who claimed to represent the security services. They had identification, but would not tell him why they had come or where they were taking him, until he had gone with them. Since then, we have heard nothing from him. Can you confirm that he is on assignment? I don’t need to know where, I just want, I mean, if you can?”
“I can’t tell you that straight away Ma’am. As far as I know he isn’t on assignment for UNIT, we would have telephoned him and sent a UNIT vehicle if that was the case. But I’ll check, if I may, and call you back?”
“Please do. You have the number there?”
“Yes, the Brigadier, that is to say, he left it with us as an emergency contact.”
“Good, I … what is it, Kate, I’m talking to Sergeant Benton.”
Kate had appeared at her mother’s side, notebook in hand and an urgent expression on her face. She whispered,
“It’s the same car. The one that Dad went away in, I saw it when you were in the shops. Look!”
Doris said, “one moment Sergeant,” and turned to her daughter. Kate handed over her notebook, showing the pages where she had taken down the descriptions of the cars and the number plates.
“I couldn’t see it all last night, it was too dark, but look, it must be the same one.”
Her mother looked from one page to the other, then, without really thinking what she was doing, handed the receiver to Kate and said, “tell the Sergeant.”
Kate wrestled with the heavy receiver for a moment, then said,
“Hello Kate, have you got something?”
“I, I might have. When Mummy and Dad were doing the shopping when we got here I was waiting in the car. I’ve got this detective book and it tells you about testing your observation skills and…” Kate suddenly felt her words were running away with her and tried to concentrate, “anyway I was looking at the other cars and writing down what they looked like and the number plates and then trying to memorise them. And when Dad was talking to those men, I looked out at their car and tried to write down the number plate and the description and” she paused, having run out of breath, “I think it’s the same car as one that I saw at the shops. I couldn’t get all the number in the dark, but I noticed the colour and that there was a dent in the boot lid and the bits of the number I did get match.”
Kate was expecting Benton to say that it was probably nothing, or that she must have got it wrong, but, instead, he said seriously,
“Thank you, Kate, can you give me the description and the number plate?”
“Yes, I, yes…” Kate read off the information and then, with a slight wobble in her voice said, “do you think they were following us?”
“I’m not sure,” replied Benton, “but this might be useful information and it’s good that you noticed it. I’m going to check and see if I can find out who those people were, and where your Dad is, and I’ll call you and your Mum back as soon as I can. Alright?”
“Yes,” said Kate in a tiny voice.”
“Good, is your Mum still there?”
Kate held the receiver out to her mother and then nestled against her. Doris put an arm around her and said,
“Yes, Ma’am, I hope it’s nothing, but I’m going to get someone to check on the car. I’ll call you back as soon as I have any news.”
“Thank you, Sergeant, and I’ll call you if Alistair, I mean if my husband gets in touch in the meantime.”
“Understood, Ma’am, goodbye for now.”
Doris hung up and bent down to hug her daughter. Still in the tiny voice, Kate asked,
“Has something happened to Dad?”
Doris sighed. “I hope not, darling. We must wait and see, I’m afraid. Now,” she stood up, “where’s Horace?”
“You go and fetch him then, and I’ll sort us out another game of scrabble while we wait.”
Kate went upstairs slowly and her mother went back to the garden to rearrange the scrabble board. As she went, she muttered to herself, “Alastair, please just call.”
At UNIT HQ, Benton put down the receiver and looked at the notes he had taken. It might have been nothing, but past experience had shown him that Kate’s powers of observation needed very little training, so, if she said she had seen a thing, he was inclined to believe that she had. He passed the notes to Private Jenkins, who was nearby.
“Jenkins, get in touch with the police and the DVLA and see if you can find out who owns this car.”
“Get on to MI6 and the regulars and find out if they have any operations in the Exbridge area and if they’ve requested our assistance. We don’t need details of the operation, just a yes or no will do.”
Corporal Scott raised her eyebrows at this but just said, “Yes, Sarge,” and went to get the relevant contact details. Benton raised his voice a little.
“I’m going to the lab. If any calls come from Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart put them straight through to me there.”
There was a chorus of “Yes, Sarge,” and Benton nodded and left the room. Jenkins and Scott looked at each other.
“Has something happened to the CO?” asked Jenkins.
“I don’t know,” replied Scott, “but I do know that we’d better get on and do what we’re told.”
“Yeah, right,” said Jenkins as he looked up the number for the vehicle licensing authority.
Benton had been hoping to find the Doctor in the laboratory and was relieved when he opened the door and saw the Time Lord about to complete an experiment.
“Ah, Sergeant,” said the Doctor, “One moment and I will be at your disposal.”
Benton glanced round and saw Jo Grant crouching behind one of the benches. He said,
“What are you…” but stopped as she grabbed his arm and pulled him down beside her.
“That’s his fourth go, all the others have blown up,” she explained.
Benton rolled his eyes in a manner reminiscent of his commanding officer. There was a pause, and then the Doctor said,
“You two doubters can come out now, it’s quite safe.”
Benton and Jo rose from behind the bench.
“Now, Sergeant,” said the Doctor, smiling and rubbing his hands together, “what can I do for you?”
His smile faded as Benton told him the news. Once the Sergeant had finished speaking, Jo looked from one to the other and said,
“You think the Brigadier is in trouble?”
“I fear we must consider it,” replied the Doctor. “This business of him being called away in the night, I know it could happen, but it doesn’t happen all that regularly. Then there’s the car.”
“You think Kate is right?” said Jo.
“I don’t see why she wouldn’t be, we know she is a very sensible and observant child. I hope we can get some useful information from the Army and MI6, but we may need to investigate ourselves.”
“Yes, Doctor, that was what I thought,” replied Benton. “Unless … there is an airbase near there, maybe we could call in a few favours from the RAF.”
“Possibly. Unless… No, we must wait for news first.”
The Doctor began to pace up and down the laboratory, his hands under his chin. He refused to expand on his thoughts, but sent Jo to fetch him a map of the area around Exbridge that included the airbase.
The Brigadier’s eyes were gradually growing accustomed to the darkness in the coal cellar. Looking down, he was able to make out the ropes around his wrists, and tried rubbing them against the arms of the chair, but to no avail. Frustrated he tried to shout through the material in his mouth and to move the chair, but it was fixed to the floor. Breathing heavily with the effort, the Brigadier sat back again. As he did so, the door opened and his eyes were dazzled as one of his captors walked down the steps, holding an electric lantern ahead of them. The Brigadier screwed up his eyes and strained backwards as the man he knew as Earnshaw held the light up in his face. Having inspected his prisoner, the man smiled and said,
“Good. Still in one piece. I knew you’d be better off down here. I’ve got someone who wants to meet you. One of my business partners.”
He stepped back and adjusted the lantern so that the light was less dazzling. Another figure stepped forward. The Brigadier, still squinting, looked at the newcomer. He could see that it was about the same height as Earnshaw, and was wearing trousers and a smock-like shirt, and that it appeared to have a cloak on with the hood raised. Puzzled, the Brigadier looked down, and felt a chill come over him as he looked at its feet. The “business partner” was not wearing shoes. He, or its, feet were green and covered in scales, and divided into three clawed toes. The Brigadier looked up again as the figure lowered its hood. In the light of the lantern he could see a flattened, reptilian face, with pale, bulging eyes. He was looking at a Silurian.
The UNIT staff had been making the phone lines and airwaves hum as they tried to find out the whereabouts of their commanding officer. Scott had managed to establish that MI6 were not responsible for the Brigadier’s disappearance. She had skirted round the issue as best she could, and had managed to get away without making it known that the Brigadier was missing, but had left behind her an impression that UNIT didn’t know what their officers were doing. She was waiting for a reply from the RAF, when Jenkins said “Gotcha!”
“Got what?” asked Scott.
“The car. According to the DVLA it belongs to an Ernest Shaw, late of Epping.”
His colleague pushed her chair over beside him.
“What do you mean, ‘late of’.”
“I checked with the police, just in case he had any form. Turns out he has. He absconded from prison three months ago.”
“What was he in for?”
“Robbery with violence.”
“Lovely,” said Scott, drily.
“Yes, quite,” replied Jenkins, “and if that’s his car, and he’s still using it,”
“Then the CO is in trouble,” said Scott, “I’ll call Sarge and let him know.”
“Yes. But why would he want…?”
“I don’t know, but it’s a start,” replied Scott, dialing the number for the lab.
Sergeant Benton’s deep sigh when he heard what Corporal Scott had to say told his companions that something serious had happened. When he told them the details of what Scott and Jenkins had discovered, the concern in their faces mirrored his.
“So he’s been kidnapped?” asked Jo, appalled.
“It looks like it. Intelligence are the only people who go around in dark suits, and they say it wasn’t them. Apart from that, none of them are likely to be driving a car belonging to a crook, are they?”
“Yes, quite,” replied the Doctor in a low voice.
Something had occurred to Jo. “But if someone has kidnapped him, why hasn’t there been a ransom demand?”
“I don’t know,” said Benton, frowning. He paused, then said, “unless…”
“What?” asked Jo.
“Unless that isn’t the point. Supposing you were a criminal and you were planning something, something big, and you found out that the CO of UNIT was staying right near where you were working. You’d want him out of the way, wouldn’t you?”
The Doctor and Jo looked at Benton.
“Sergeant, I believe you may be right,” said the Doctor, “But you do realise what you have just said?”
“Yes,” said Benton, heavily, “We just have to hope I’ve jumped to conclusions and that they are just keeping him somewhere until they’ve pulled whatever job it is they have planned. I suppose, could they be waiting to ransom him afterwards?”
“It’s possible,” conceded the Doctor, “but we need more information. Has Corporal Scott heard from the RAF yet?”
“Not yet. But either way, I’d better go and call Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart.”
He left the lab and Jo and the Doctor exchanged worried looks.
“Surely they can’t have?” began Jo.
“I hope not, Jo, I really do, I...”
At that moment the door opened again and Captain Yates came in, looking both flustered and angry.
“Look here,” he said, “What’s going on? I can’t get any sense out of communications and I just met Benton and he said he had to make an urgent call and would brief me later on!”
He was about to begin again, but stopped when he saw his colleagues faces.
Jo said, “Oh, Mike,” but the Doctor cut in;
“Sit down, Captain Yates, I’m afraid we have a serious matter on our hands.”
Neither Kate nor her mother had been able to concentrate on anything much while they were waiting for Benton to call them back. In the end, Doris sent her daughter out into the garden with her skipping rope and strict instructions to stay on the patio and not mark the lawn. Having seen Kate outside and beginning to skip, Doris sighed and set about sweeping the floors. It didn’t need doing, but, at that point, anything was better than just sitting still and doing nothing. She had finished the kitchen and moved into the hall when the telephone rang. Although she was expecting it, the sound of the bell still made her jump. She grabbed the receiver and said,
“Hello, Ma’am, Sergeant Benton here. I have some news.”
“Oh. Oh good. That is...?”
Something about the tone of Benton’s voice made the dread that Doris had been trying to suppress come to the surface. She listened while Benton spoke, then said quietly,
“Thank you, Sergeant. We will wait to hear from you.”
“I’m sorry I can’t be more positive, Ma’am. We will contact you as soon as we have any more news, and if anything else occurs to you, please do call us. You can contact me on the usual number, and I’ll give you the number for the lab too.” Benton read off the number and Doris noted it down, then repeated her thanks and hung up. She stood for a moment in the hall, then went through to the kitchen and looked out of the window. Kate had stopped skipping and was talking to a small boy who was looking over the fence. Doris sighed and sat down at the kitchen table. She would have to tell Kate, of course, it would be wrong of her not to.
Kate had gone out to the garden with her mind in a whirl. Had Dad been kidnapped by the men in the car? Who were they? She ran over the conversations with Benton and her mother in her head and came to no conclusions. She took a deep breath and held up the handles of her skipping rope in front of her, then began to skip, counting under her breath as she went. After a few moments she became aware that she was being watched. She stopped skipping and looked to her right. A boy, who looked about the same age as Kate, was looking at her over the fence. Kate was tempted to tell him to go away, but instead went over to the fence and said,
“Who are you?” asked the boy.
“I’m Kate, who are you?” replied Kate (she assumed the boy must live in the house next door, rather than being a holiday maker).
“My name’s Robert,” said the boy, then asked, “You here for long?”
“Just this week,” said Kate, cautiously.
“Right. Seen you at the beach.”
The conversation flagged at that point and Kate, looking around inspiration, caught sight of the bag of sweets and ran over to the table to fetch it, then offered one to Robert. He stuck his hand in the bag and retrieved two sweets, putting them both in his mouth at once and then moving them to his cheek so he could talk.
“You been along the cliff yet?”
“No. We just got here the day before yesterday we haven’t had a chance yet.” Kate was curious, what could be the attraction of the clifftop? She tried to picture it in her mind. She remembered a grassy expanse, with a footpath and one or two houses.
Robert moved the sweets to his other cheek and went on,
“You want to be careful if you do. Those cliffs is haunted!”
He paused, looking at Kate, who realised that he was waiting for her to be horrified, so widened her eyes and said,
“Yeah. My brother seen ghosts there.”
“Oooh.” On the whole, Kate was fairly sure that she didn’t believe in ghosts, but her experience with the Cyberman, and her conversations with the Doctor, had opened her mind to other possibilities. Robert’s brother might not have seen ghosts, but could he have seen something else? Kate asked,
“What did they look like?”
Robert beckoned to Kate, who came closer to the fence. His voice sank to a whisper.
“He says they’ve got cloaks with hoods. They don’t make no noise. He saw one come out of the house and go down to the cliff and then...” he paused for maximum effect, “when he looked over the edge, it had vanished!”
Kate looked gratifyingly astonished at this and Robert was about to expand on his remarkable tale when a voice was heard calling his name. Looking up the garden in disgust, he said,
“That’s mother. See you, Kate.”
“Yes,” replied Kate and watched him run back towards the house. Kate made her way back to where she had dropped her skipping rope more slowly, turning what she had just heard over in her mind. Of course, Robert, and his brother could be making it up. But then the memory of the strange markings on the beach came back to her. Could they belong to Robert’s “ghosts?” What might they be? Might there be a connection with her father’s disappearance? Kate came to a decision. She would ask the Doctor. Her mind made up, she picked up her skipping rope and went in at the kitchen door, where she found her mother sitting at the table. The expression on her face made Kate say, in a faltering voice, “Is … is...?” Then the next moment she was swept up in her mother’s arms. Doris sat down again with Kate on her lap and told her what she had heard from Sergeant Benton. Kate looked up at her mother. She wondered why she didn’t feel like crying. She had always supposed she would, if something like this happened. Instead, she felt hollow, as if a hole had opened up inside her. She wondered if she should still ask to talk to the Doctor. Would her mother let her? Would it be a silly waste of everyone’s time when they should be looking for... She rested her head against her mother’s shoulder and said,
“What should we do?”
Doris kissed her daughter and said,
“Wait, I suppose. It’s frustrating, I know, we want to find him, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer.”
She stood up and put Kate down on a chair then asked,
“Shall I make you a hot drink, darling, we’ve both had a shock.”
Kate considered for a moment, then, remembering the advice of the Matron in her favourite school stories, said,
“Yes, please and you should have a cup of tea.”
Suddenly, Doris laughed. She came round the table and kissed the top of Kate’s head.
“Oh, Katie, what would I do without you to look after me?” then seeing Kate’s hurt expression, “I’m not teasing, darling, I mean it. You go upstairs and wash your hands and I’ll make our drinks and get us some bread and jam. Off you go.”
Still not quite sure if she was being teased, Kate went upstairs and returned a few minutes later with her notebook and with Horace, who was always a reassuring presence. She sat at the table and her mother passed her a plate of bread and jam and a steaming mug of cocoa, then sat down opposite her. After the first mouthful, Kate discovered she was hungry and ate her snack quickly, between careful sips of cocoa. Having pushed her empty plate to one side, she looked at her notebook and then at her mother, who asked,
“What is it, dear?”
“Can I?” Kate still wasn’t sure how to ask, but now she had started, she had to go on. She tried again. “Can I phone the Doctor? Please? I want to tell him about the footprints and that boy next door saw something too.” She blushed and looked down, sure that she knew what the answer would be, then looked up again in surprise when her mother said,
“Yes, alright, darling. I’ll call and you can talk to him, if he isn’t too busy.”
Much later, Doris Lethbridge Stewart wondered why she had allowed Kate talk to call the Doctor. There must have been something in her daughter’s expression, perhaps with a memory of the incident with the Cyberman, that had prompted her to agree. At any rate, she got up from the table and, followed by Kate, made her way to the hall and dialed the number for the laboratory that Sergeant Benton had given her. She waited, then heard the Doctor’s voice say,
“UNIT Headquarters, scientific section,” and said,
“Doctor, this is Doris Lethbridge Stewart. Kate has something she wants to tell you about, something she saw.”
She beckoned to Kate, who came forward nervously and took the receiver and raised it to her ear in time to hear the Doctor say,
“and what might that be?”
“Hello,” said Kate, uncertainly, then with more confidence, “Hello Doctor, I saw some strange footprints on the beach and I wanted to tell you about them in case they were from something dangerous. And then the boy next door says his brother saw ghosts in cloaks at night on the cliff and I wondered if it could be them that left the footprints.”
“I see,” replied the Doctor, “tell me about the footprints.”
Kate repeated all she could remember and the Doctor questioned her about how large the marks had been and how deep, and how many of them she had seen, and where they seemed to be leading to. When she had answered all his questions, Kate asked,
“Are they, is it something like the Cyberman?”
“Not quite,” replied the Doctor, “but it is something dangerous and I believe you may have given us some very important clues. Now, may I speak to your mother again?”
After exchanging a few more remarks with Doris and advising her and Kate to avoid the beach for the time being he hung up and turned to face a bemused Captain Yates.
“What is it, Doctor?”
The Doctor began to pace again, his brows drawn together in concentration. Finally, Yates lost patience and said,
“For Heaven’s sake, Doctor, what is it? What were you talking about?”
The Doctor stopped in front of the Captain, who stepped back when he saw the look on the Doctor’s face.
“I’m afraid the Brigadier may be in more serious trouble than we thought, Captain. I believe we may be dealing with Silurians.”
The Brigadier stared at the Silurian in horrified amazement. The Silurian came closer and leaned over near to the Brigadier, walking round him and then stopping in front of him and staring into his eyes. It then stepped back abruptly and signaled to Earnshaw, who removed the gag from the Brigadier’s mouth. The Brigadier coughed and spat and then said, in a voice that croaked from lack of use,
“You mistake me, Brigadier,” replied the Silurian, “I am not one of those you entombed. We are many, many more than you have reckoned and we are spread under the surface of the earth. Our numbers are not great in this place, but we will still be able to clear ourselves a place on the earth that was once ours, and set an example for our brethren.”
The Brigadier coughed again,
“Clear a place? Your ‘brethren’ tried to wipe out humanity with their plague.”
“As was their right. Do not you humans use similar means to clear the land of what you see as pests?”
At this, the Brigadier strained forwards, but the Silurian merely stepped back and laughed at him.
“You will not be able to bury us this time.”
The Brigadier sat back.
“What are you going to do?”
The Silurian was about to speak when Earnshaw stepped forward with a warning expression. The Silurian held up his hand and said,
“No, my human associate is right. It would not do to tell you all. But I can tell you this much. Our habitation is well equipped, but we lack weapons. Our associates will provide us with these, and we shall use them to drive the ape-descendants away, or else to destroy them. You will be held here until we have secured the weapons, then you will either be ransomed to provide these humans with an extra reward, or we shall remove you to our laboratories. We are always in need of test subjects.”
The Brigadier began to struggle again, but Earnshaw was quickly at his side, replacing the gag and tying rope around his prisoner’s chest to hold him more firmly in his place. The Silurian raised its hood and made its way up the stairs, followed by Earnshaw. The door closed and the Brigadier was once again in darkness, his mind racing as he tried to think of a way, any way at all that he could escape and get word to UNIT.
At UNIT HQ the news that the Silurians might be involved in the Brigadier’s disappearance caused grave consternation. Captain Yates was determined to take a detachment to Exbridge immediately and, as he put it, “shake the neighbourhood until we find them,” but the Doctor urged caution.
“We don’t know yet what their goal is. We can’t go in blindfolded.”
“I know, believe me, I am as concerned for the Brigadier’s safety as you are, but we must have more data before we make a decision.”
As if on cue, the door opened and Sergeant Benton came in, notebook in hand. The Doctor looked at him and said,
“I think we’ve got them, Sir. At least, I think we know what their target is,” he put his notebook down on the bench. “The RAF have finally been in touch. The base near Exbridge is due to have a delivery of those new air to air missiles tomorrow. The convoy hasn’t left yet, they are travelling overnight so as not to attract attention.” Sergeant Benton looked at his colleagues, “Could that be it?”
The Doctor frowned, then said,
“Yes! I believe so. Even if the Silurians (Benton looked startled) don’t use the missiles as they are, they have the technology to strip them down for parts. Yes, that must be it. Sergeant?”
“What did you tell the RAF?”
“There wasn’t a lot I could tell them, Doctor. I said that we’d had intelligence that suggested the convoy might be at risk and they said they would double the guard, but they can’t delay it, it must go through on time.”
“So what do we do?” asked Yates.
He felt he should be taking the decisions, but he hadn’t been with UNIT during the Silurian incident and wanted the Doctor’s advice. The Doctor considered.
“You should certainly go to Exbridge. I believe that young Kate has given us some valuable information that might lead us to the Brigadier, but I will want to check on a map to be sure of it. I am also concerned for the safety of Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart and Kate.”
“What about the convoy?”
“I think we must leave that to the RAF. If the villains behind this see UNIT troops they will know that we have discovered their plan and they may revenge themselves on the Brigadier before you can get to him.”
Yates picked up the telephone receiver and dialed the number for communications.
“Private Jenkins, sound the alert. Two squads, fully armed, mobile in ten minutes. Destination Exbridge, will brief them on departure.”
He hung up and looked at the Doctor.
“Will you come with us, Doctor? You know these Silurians.”
“Yes, yes, I’ll come,” said the Doctor, “save me a space in one of the jeeps, I’d better not bring Bessie, too conspicuous.”
Benton and Yates looked at each other in amazement, but said nothing. Clearly the Doctor was serious. Benton’s mind moved to other matters.
“Sir, how do you want to work this?”
“If we can check the Doctor’s theory and locate the Silurian base, or the place where those gangsters are holding the Brigadier, I’ll take the main squad and we’ll stake it out. You go to the house with two men and make sure that Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart and Kate are safe, then signal us and we will move in. Doctor?”
He looked at the Doctor, who was once again deep in thought.
“Yes, yes that sounds sensible. If you can spare the men, I will take some of them down to the foot of the cliff. From what Kate said, it sounds as if there may be an entrance to the Silurian base there.”
“Good,” said Yates, relieved to be taking action at last, “I’ll see you both at the entrance in ten minutes.”
Benton saluted and left, followed by his superior officer, leaving the Doctor to put on his tweed coat and make his way to the office to consult a map of Exbridge and the coast.
Earnshaw, or Shaw, as he had been named by Private Jenkins, was in the front room of the house when the call came. He listened, with increasing anger, then said, “Very well. Understood,” then slammed the receiver back into its cradle with a force that made his associates look at him in surprise.
“Someone has tipped off the RAF,” he said. “My contact just called to say they are doubling the guard on the convoy. I don’t know if we can take them.”
A hissing sound came from the corner where the Silurian was standing. It moved forward into the light and said,
“You may still overcome them with an ambush, but, perhaps you should have your asset ready to bargain with.”
“You mean?” asked Earnshaw with a jerk of his head towards the door that led to the coal cellar.
“But, would they exchange the missiles for him?”
“Perhaps not. You would still need to attack, but it might persuade them to surrender more quickly. The more so if you had more than one hostage to bargain with…”
It left the sentence unfinished, but Earnshaw turned to his men with a nasty smile and said,
“Right, you heard him. Go and fetch our Brigadier some company.”
Despite the clouds still hanging over her, Doris Lethbridge Stewart had felt better after receiving a call from Sergeant Benton to tell her that UNIT was on the way. She knew that her husband was still in great danger, if he was still alive, but it reassured her to know that some action was being taken. She went through to the front room, where Kate was curled up on the sofa with Horace, trying to concentrate on her Biggles book, and told her some of what the Sergeant had had to say. Kate brightened when she heard the news, but then her face fell again.
“But Dad is still in danger, isn’t he?”
“Yes, darling. But the Doctor thinks he may have found out where he is, from the clues you gave him.”
On consulting a map, the Doctor had decided that a large house near the end of the cliff path was the most likely place for the gangster’s hideout. He had considered the possibility of them using the Silurian base, but the fact that they had a car and would, therefore, need somewhere to park it, together with the human dislike of conditions under the ground, told against that idea.
Kate looked startled, but pleased at this, as her mother had intended. Doris looked at the clock on the mantelpiece. She was just about to suggest that Kate might be more comfortable reading in bed, when there was a knock at the door. Kate gave a start, and looked at her mother. Doris stood up and went to the doorway, where she could see the front door without her shadow being seen through the fluted glass in the door. From where she stood, she could see two figures, and make out their dark clothing. In a whisper, she said,
“Kate!” and when her daughter came to her side, moved out into the hall with Kate behind her. In the same whisper, Doris said,
“Go upstairs and hide in your room. Shut the door. No matter who calls, or knocks, don’t come out. Quickly now.”
Kate looked at her mother, then turned and ran upstairs. When she reached her room she closed the door and crawled into the wardrobe, pulling the door almost shut behind her. She waited, shivering, straining her ears to hear what was happening downstairs. In the hall, Doris took a walking stick from the stick stand and went back into the front room. There was another knock. Doris stayed where she was. One of the figures bent down and pushed open the letter box.
“We know you are there, Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart. I will give you a choice. You can come out, quietly and in a dignified manner, or we will come in and get you, but you will come with us.”
A scratching sound came from the door, and Doris could see that one of the figures was standing closer to the lock. She went quickly across the hall to the telephone and lifted the receiver. The line was dead. She turned away from the phone and came face to face with a man in a dark suit. She tried to strike him with the walking stick, but he grabbed her wrist and bent her arm until she cried out and dropped the stick, then he turned her round and put his hand over her mouth and nose, forcing her to breath in the chloroform from the cloth he had hidden in his hand. In the wardrobe upstairs, Kate put her hands over her ears and curled up more tightly. She wanted to help, but she knew her mother wanted her to be safe. And really, what could she do?
Doris fought to stay awake, but the drug was too strong for her and she sagged in her attacker’s arms. The man put the cloth in his pocket and picked Doris up, then stood to one side as the front door opened. He smiled at his colleagues.
“Got her. She put up a fight though.”
“Back door didn’t give you any trouble then?” asked one of the other men.
“Good. Let’s get out of here. Shaw wants us ready to move once we get her back.”
The man carried Doris out to the car and propped her on the back seat, then got in beside her. The other two gang members came out, leaving the front door open behind them. None of the men noticed the curtain twitch at one of the upstairs windows as they drove away.
Kate watched until the car had disappeared round a corner and then sat down on her bed. Her hands shook and she clasped them together and looked at them, trying to decide what to do. She had to do something, that was certain, but what? Her immediate thought was to call UNIT HQ, so she ran downstairs and grabbed the receiver, which her mother had left hanging on the end of its wire. Kate raised it to her ear and was about to dial when she realised there was no dialing tone. She gave a gasp that was halfway to a sob and slid down the wall until she was sitting on the floor. What could she do? Go next door and ask to use the phone? Possibly, but that wouldn’t make UNIT come any faster and if she called the police and they believed her, would she be putting her parents in danger if the police went to the house? Kate pulled up her knees and rested her chin on them. She tried to remember what her mother and Sergeant Benton had said. The Doctor thought he knew where Dad was, and it was because of what she had told him. What had she told him? That she had seen footprints on the beach and that Robert’s brother had seen “ghosts” on the cliff. On the cliff. But where on the cliff? Kate closed her eyes and tried to remember what she could of the scenery. In her mind’s eye she could see the beach, and the path to the cliff, and, at the top of the path, a house. A big, old, house, ancient to Kate’s young eyes, just the sort of place you might expect to see ghosts. Kate opened her eyes. That must be it. That must be the place. Should she? Could she go there? As soon as the idea came into her head, Kate decided that she must go. She didn’t want to stay in the cottage, it didn’t feel safe. She ran upstairs, trying to ignore the nagging voice in her head that told her not to be silly, that she couldn’t possibly help. Kate reached the bedroom and grabbed her penknife and torch from the bedside table. She saw Horace, he seemed to looking at her questioningly from the bed. Kate kissed his nose, and tucked him down under the blankets, whispering,
“I’ve got to go, I’ll be back soon.”
She closed the bedroom door behind her and ran back down the stairs, grabbing her jacket from the hook in the hall. Before going out of the door, she paused. Should she leave a note? She was hoping that she might meet the UNIT troops on the way, but if they came to the house when she wasn’t there, they would worry. (It didn’t occur to Kate how much they would worry when they found out where she had gone.) Kate went into the kitchen where she had left her notebook and tore a page out of it. She thought for a moment, then wrote a short message and put it in the middle of the table, where nobody would miss it. She paused again in the doorway, the voice in her head becoming louder the longer she stayed. Kate put her hands over her ears again and shook her head, trying to shake the doubts away, then turned and ran out of the front door. As she went out of the garden gate, she heard a voice from nearby.
“Where are you going?”
It was Robert. He was in the front garden this time, but still leaning on the fence. Kate looked at him in bewilderment, then said, very quickly,
“Those men in the car have kidnapped my Mum” (though Doris was ‘Mummy’ in private, Kate was becoming aware that older children tended to use Mum and had adjusted accordingly). Without listening to Robert’s reply, Kate went on,
“I know where they are taking her. There’s some soldiers coming. They’ll come here and they are going to find my Mum and Dad, but I have to go too. I know where they are and I want to try and meet the soldiers on the way so I can tell them.” she stopped, breathless, and Robert, his eyes wide, said,
“Yes. Really. I have to go now.”
“Well...” the boy considered, then said, “take my bike. You’ll be quicker on that.”
He opened the gate and wheeled out a bicycle that, while well worn, was clearly his pride and joy. Kate understood. She put a hand on his arm and said,
“Thank you. I promise I’ll look after it and I’ll bring it straight back.”
Robert looked slightly embarrassed, but nodded, then turned and went back into the house. Having negotiated the crossbar, which was unfamiliar to her, Kate pushed off and was soon pedaling rapidly in the direction the car had taken.
At the house on the cliff, the remaining members of the gang were waiting for the signal to move out and join the others in setting the ambush. Shaw was waiting impatiently on the doorstep when the car pulled up and his associates got out, carrying Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart. As they approached, he asked,
“She give you any bother?”
“Nah, not really,” replied the man who was holding her. “Where d’you want her?”
“Put her upstairs until she comes round. In fact, yes, it might be better to keep them separated. Put her upstairs and keep an eye on her. If she tries anything, tie her up.”
“Right”, said the man and went into the house and up the stairs.
Shaw looked at the others.
“You,” he said to the man on his left, “stay here and help him watch the prisoners. I don’t suppose they will be any trouble, but you never know. I’ll signal you if we need to bring them to the site.”
“Right. And are you going to hand them over?”
“Not if I can help it. But we might need to exhibit them to persuade the RAF to hand over the missiles. After that, well, I think the lizards have plans for them. You,” to the other man, “with me. We haven’t got much time.”
Both men nodded and moved on his words. Upstairs, Doris was placed on the floor of the room where her husband had been locked up on his arrival at the house. The man who had carried her checked that she was breathing freely, then went out and closed the door. He went along the corridor and was greeted by his colleague and the two men left the upper floor.
The UNIT jeep stopped outside the holiday cottage, and Sergeant Benton jumped down and ran to the front door. When it opened at his touch, he looked round at his colleagues and said quietly, “you two, round to the back garden, you two, with me,” and slowly opened the door. The phone was still off the hook, so Benton lifted the receiver and listened, his frown deepening when he realised it had been cut off. He checked the front room and, after signaling to his men to check upstairs, went through to the kitchen, where one of the men who had come through the back door said, “found this on the table, Sarge,” and passed him Kate’s note.
Benton read the note with an expression torn between horror and incredulity, then passed it back to the soldier, who read it himself. In careful block capitals, Kate had written,
“THE MEN CAME BACK AND TOOK MUM. THEY ARE AT THE HOUSE ON THE CLIFF NEAR THE PATH. I AM GOING THERE.
Benton rubbed his forehead and said,
“What is she thinking?” then spoke into his radio.
After a moment, Captain Yates’ voice crackled over the airwaves.
“Yes, Sergeant, what news? Over.”
“House deserted; Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart has been kidnapped. I found a note. Kate is following them to the house on the cliff. Over.”
“I know, Sir. You’d better look out for her on your way. Over.”
“Understood. Secure the house and then join us as soon as you can. Out.”
Sergeant Benton looked at his men and said,
“Right, you heard the captain, check the doors and make sure the house is secure, then get ready to move.”
Benton left the cottage and was going towards the jeep when he saw Robert, who was staring at him with his mouth open. Kate had mentioned soldiers, but Robert hadn’t really thought they would turn up. Seeing the boy, Benton went over and said,
“Here, you, lad. Have you seen a little girl leave this house? About the same age as you?”
Robert closed his mouth and opened it again. Then said,
“Yes, er, yes, Sir. She went that way,” he pointed, “she said... she said she was going to try and find her Mum and that there would be soldiers. But you’re here. I …” he looked at Benton, not sure if what he was about to say would get him into trouble, “I lent her my bike.”
Despite the gravity of the situation, Benton nearly laughed at the expression on the small boy’s face. Instead, he said,
“Right, thank you, you’ve been very helpful,”
and turned aside to update Captain Yates and tell him that he should look out for Kate on the road as she was riding a bicycle. That done, he joined his team in the jeep and they drove off towards the shore.
On the main road, the convoy of trucks and lorries carrying the missiles rumbled along. The escorting soldiers had been warned to look out for signs of an ambush, but, so far, all had been quiet. The lead jeep rounded a bend and came to a sudden stop. A barrier of branches and barbed wire had been dragged across the road. The driver radioed to the convoy to stand by, and the soldiers readied their weapons and looked out into the darkness, waiting for the attack. They didn’t have long to wait. Shaw and his men appeared from the ditches at the side of the road, throwing grenades that exploded into clouds of acrid, choking smoke. Some members of the escort succumbed almost immediately and lay on the ground or over the seats in the jeeps, coughing and then becoming unconscious, but others were able to put on their gas masks and opened fire on the ambushers. Shaw and his men returned fire, ducking in to the ditches to avoid the bullets from the jeeps. The driver of the lead jeep grabbed his radio again and called UNIT.
In his jeep, Captain Yates answered the convoy’s distress call, then signaled Benton.
“Sergeant, convoy is under fire. Change of plans. The Doctor will proceed to the beach, you and your men take the cliff road to the house and find the Brigadier, Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart and Kate. We will divert to give reinforcements to the convoy. Understood?”
Yates radioed to the jeep behind, to give a similar message to the Doctor, who agreed and signaled to his driver to leave the column and turn off towards the beach, while Yates and his men turned their vehicles and headed for the main road. Benton frowned again as he drove. They had assumed that most of the gangsters would be at the ambush, but would he have enough men to rescue the hostages? And what about the Silurians? He shook his head. The plans were made, they would have to follow them and hope for the best.
Kate had made quick progress along the coast road and was soon in sight of the house. She jumped off the bicycle and pushed it under the hedge that ran along the side of the road, then ran along the verge until she reached the house. She could see a car pulled up amid heaps of rubble and builder’s debris outside. Cautiously, Kate crept towards the car and shone her torch on the number plate. It was the car she had seen. This was the place. Hearing voices, she moved back to the hedge and crouched as low as she could, turning off her torch. Kate watched as a man carrying a torch came round the front of the house and was met by another who opened the front door.
“Anything?” asked the man at the door.
“Nah, nothing,” replied his associate, “any bother from...” he jerked his head in towards the house.
“Not a peep from either of them. She’s still out cold and he’s worn out I reckon. “
“We keeping them separate?”
“Yeah, that’s what Shaw said. Makes sense, there’s only the one fixed chair in the cellar, we haven’t got time to fix another one and we don’t want her moving around once she comes round. Better to keep her upstairs and him down there.”
“We’ve had news from Shaw. The attack has started, so we’ve got to be ready to move out when he signals and take them with us. We’ll have to prove they’re still alive if we want to persuade the RAF to give up the hardware to us...” the conversation continued as the men went into the house and the front door closed behind them.
Kate had put a hand over her mouth to stifle a gasp when she realised that the men were talking about her parents. Dad was in the cellar and Mummy was unconscious and in an upstairs room. What had they done to her? Kate sobbed, then wiped her eyes on the back of her hand and took a deep breath. She looked around. There was no sign of the UNIT rescue party yet. In her hiding place by the hedge, Kate thought hard. It sounded as if the men were going to move her parents somewhere. Doris hadn’t told Kate all the details that Benton had shared with her, so she only knew that the gang was plotting to steal something. From what she had just heard, it seemed to Kate that her parents were going to be used to make the people who had whatever it was the gang wanted give it to them. But if they were taken away from the house, would UNIT be able to find them? Kate couldn’t hope to follow a car or van. What should she do? Kate looked around, searching for inspiration. The house was mostly in darkness, but there were some lights on in the rooms on the ground floor. By the glow from the windows, Kate made out something that looked a bit like a trapdoor, near to the wall at the side of the house. From her visits to her grandparent’s home, Kate knew that this was a coal hole, a hatch where deliveries of coal would be poured into the cellar, either loose, or in sacks. When she saw the hatch, Kate caught her breath. Could she try? If it was locked, she would be stuck and would have to wait for UNIT to arrive, but if it was open, she might be able to get in. She crept up to the hatch and pulled on the handle. There was a creak as the hatch opened and Kate froze, waiting to see if she had been heard. But there was nothing. No noise from inside and no voices, so she pulled the hatch open and looked in. She didn’t dare to use her torch and could see little but blackness below. Moving slowly, Kate climbed into the opening and sat on the edge, her legs hanging through the hole. She tried to brace herself against the sides of the chute, so as not to move too fast, but her hands slipped on the surface and she fell, landing with a squeak on a heap of sacks that had been left piled up near the wall of the cellar.
Tired of staring into the darkness, the Brigadier had closed his eyes. He had heard the sound of engines from above, which told him that some of the gang was leaving, presumably to try and steal the missiles. After that there had been silence, until a noise from the back of the cellar made him open his eyes in surprise. The Brigadier tried to turn his head, but the noise had come from behind him and he couldn’t turn far enough to see. Suddenly a torch came on, close at hand. He squinted in the light and then gasped as the last voice he had expected to hear said,
“Dad? Are you alright?”
The next moment the torch was dropped into his lap and he felt Kate tugging that the knot that held the gag in place. With a quiet exclamation of satisfaction, she managed to undo it, and gently pulled the material out of her father’s mouth. The Brigadier wasn’t often lost for words, but the sight of his small daughter busily sawing at the ropes that secured his wrists with her penknife astonished him. He tried to clear his throat, then said in a voice that was more of a croak, “Kate? How? How did you?”
Kate pulled the severed rope away and said, almost as if she hadn’t heard him,
“They’ve got Mummy. Upstairs somewhere. I heard them say they were going to take you and her to make the RAF give them something they wanted. Captain Yates is coming but he isn’t here yet and I couldn’t let them take you away so he wouldn’t know where to find you.” She paused to draw breath. “So, I came. I thought I’d meet the UNIT people on the way, but they aren’t here yet.” She bent down to free her father’s ankles, and he moved in the chair, stretching and rubbing his arms to try and get his circulation going. Finally, Kate stood up and looked at him again. She seemed uncertain, she looked almost ashamed. The Brigadier asked,
“What is it, Kate?”
She said, in a small voice,
“I know you said I shouldn’t put myself at risk (the Brigadier’s phrase sounded odd in her 10- year-old voice) and Mummy said I should hide, but I couldn’t leave you and let them take you away.” The last word was lost in a sob and The Brigadier leaned forward and put his arms around her, lifting her onto his lap and holding her close. He leaned his cheek against her head and murmured,
“My precious girl, I’m not going to tell you off. How could I? Shhhhh,” as Kate began to cry in earnest, “it’s alright, we’ll all be alright.”
Kate tried to choke down her sobs. She looked up at her father and asked,
“What should we do now?”
“How did you get in?”
“I got in through the coal hole. It’s over there,” Kate pointed to the rear of the cellar. The Brigadier looked around. In the glow of Kate’s torch, he could see the folding chair that Shaw had used, set against the wall. He said, gently, “can you get down?” to Kate, and, when she had clambered off his lap, he stood up and walked over to pick up the chair, pausing when his muscles cramped from lack of use. He retrieved the chair and set it up under the chute, then called softly to Kate.
“I’m going to lift you up so you can climb out. I’ll try and climb out after you, but, if I can’t, I want you to find a safe place to hide and wait until the others get here.”
“What about Mummy?”
“I’m going to find Mummy, but I can’t get through the door down here. Now, ready?”
The Brigadier climbed onto the chair and Kate scrambled up beside him. Hoping that he could manage to hold her high enough, the Brigadier lifted Kate and she grabbed at the edge of the hatch, then managed to pull herself up as her father steadied her. She turned to look back at him at him, a look of concern in her eyes. The Brigadier tried to reach for the opening, but he kept slipping on the chute and couldn’t pull himself over the edge. Kate tried to help, but the Brigadier was stuck, hanging from the edge of the hatch. As he made a final effort to pull himself up, Kate gasped and moved aside, and a familiar voice said,
“Just a moment, Sir, we’ll get you out,”
and Sergeant Benton’s hands gripped the Brigadier’s wrists and held him steady while the other UNIT personnel leant in and grabbed his clothing to pull him out. Once he was safely out, the Brigadier said, quietly, “thank you Sergeant.”
He looked at Kate, who was waiting to one side and then at one of his soldiers and said,
“Private Smyth, will you take Miss Lethbridge Stewart to your jeep and stay with her there?”
The private replied instantly and in the same low tone,
“Yes, Sir, come on Kate,”
and held out his hand to the schoolgirl, who took it and went with him to the jeep. Sergeant Benton sat down next to his commanding officer and asked,
“Are you alright, Sir?”
“I think so, Sergeant, but the important thing now is to find my wife. Kate says that she is in one of the upstairs rooms. The cellar door is locked and barred from the outside, so that is no use to us. We will need to find another way in.”
“Right, Sir. What do you suggest?”
“I suggest that you and I and you two men check the windows at the back of the house, while you two,” he nodded to the remaining soldiers, “provide a diversion by knocking on the door and demanding entry. Hopefully we can distract them enough to find Doris and get her away before they have a chance to act. Sergeant?”
“Have you a spare firearm?”
Benton nodded to one of the men, who ran back to the jeeps and returned with a revolver, which he passed to the Brigadier.
“Thank you, now, let’s get on. We haven’t much time.”
The men stood back and Benton helped the Brigadier to his feet. The Sergeant looked at his CO cautiously. The Brigadier looked far from well, but Benton could see a familiar light in his eyes and knew that he would not be dissuaded from joining in the rescue. The instructions the men had received were confirmed in whispers, and Benton, the Brigadier and two of the men went to the back of the house, to try and effect an entry while the others went to the front door, ready to, as one of them put it, “cause a ruckus.” The soldiers looked at their watches. After three minutes had passed, one of them raised his rifle and began to hammer against the door, shouting,
“United Nations Intelligence Taskforce, we have you surrounded, open this door!”
At the back of the house, Sergeant Benton and the Brigadier had found a window that had not been properly latched. Benton slid the blade of his penknife through the gap and pushed the latch aside, then raised the sash and the two men climbed inside. They made their way carefully through the room and out into the hall, where they saw the two gangsters who had been left on guard approaching the front door, their guns drawn. The Brigadier glanced at his Sergeant, who nodded. On the Brigadier’s signal, Benton struck one of the men on the back of the head with his gun, felling him instantly. The other man turned, then froze as he felt the Brigadier’s gun at his throat.
“Now,” said the Brigadier, softly, but with infinite menace, “you are going to take me to my wife. Understood?”
The man nodded and Benton, having checked that the other gangster was unconscious, radioed the troops outside and opened the front door to let them all in. Two of them dragged the unconscious man to the foot of the stairs and handcuffed him to the banister to await transportation, and the other two followed Benton upstairs. At the door of the room where his wife was confined, the Brigadier said,
“Open it, then give me the key.”
The gangster did as he was told and then stood back and Benton, who had reached them by this time, held onto him while the Brigadier opened the door and went in. Doris was sitting with her back against the wall and her head in her hands, much as her husband had done when he was recovering from his dose of chloroform. She looked up as the Brigadier entered and seemed confused, but then said, “Alistair!” Her husband knelt down and put his arms around her and, for a moment, they said nothing, then he kissed her and asked,
“Ready to get out of here, my dear?”
“Yes!” she replied, emphatically, holding onto his arm as she got up. A sudden thought struck her and she asked,
“Kate is quite safe. She is waiting for us in the jeep.”
“What? She? But I?”
“Never mind that for now, my dear, I’ll explain everything later. For the time being, we need to get out of this house. Ready Sergeant?”
“Right, shove him in there and lock the door. He can have a taste of his own medicine.”
“Yes, Sir!” said Benton cheerfully, then, to his prisoner, “you heard the Brigadier, in you go,”
and pushed him into the room, closing and locking the door on him and giving the key back to the Brigadier, who put it in his pocket. He smiled, grimly, then said,
“Sergeant Benton, would you give Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart your arm? I fear I am not really in any state to support anyone but myself.”
The Sergeant obliged, with a courtliness that drew a smile from Doris Lethbridge Stewart.
“Thank you, Sergeant.”
They walked back downstairs and were met at the door by the two UNIT men who had stayed on guard. One of them saluted and said,
“Captain Yates, called, Sir, the ambush is over. The police have arrived to help with mopping up and he and his men are on their way to us now. They got there just in time.”
“Good,” replied the Brigadier, “but we aren’t quite finished. There’s still the Silurians to tackle. Benton, you take Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart to the jeep and have Smyth drive her and Kate back to the cottage. I take it you left it secure?”
“Yes, Sir, and I brought the key.”
The Sergeant handed the door key to Doris, who took it with a smile, but then said,
“Alistair, if you think I’m going to let you go haring off into battle again after what you’ve been through, you ares sorely mistaken. I’m sure Captain Yates, Sergeant Benton and the Doctor are quite capable of dealing with those creatures, I take it they are creatures?” she looked at Benton, who nodded, not trusting himself to speak, “Well, I’m sure they can deal with them for once without you.”
The Brigadier muttered something under his breath, but then said, quietly, “yes, dear.” Truth be told, he was beginning to wonder how much longer he could stay standing, but he felt obliged to lead his troops. Sergeant Benton stared straight ahead, not daring to catch his commanding officer’s eye. After a moment’s silence, he said to the soldiers,
“Right, you lot, let’s get moving. Private Archibald, you escort the Brigadier and Mrs. Lethbridge Stewart to the jeep. The rest of you, with me. Captain Yates will rendezvous with us at the cave and the Doctor should already be there. Let’s go!” He nodded to the Brigadier, who saluted, and then led his men towards the path to the beach. The private, who was torn between embarrassment at his CO being ticked off like a naughty schoolboy, and a desire to laugh hysterically, took Doris’ arm and led the way to the jeep. Before they had reached it, they heard a cry of,
and saw Kate running towards them. Doris bent to kiss her daughter’s grimy, tear-stained face and asked,
“What on earth have you been doing? You look like you’ve been down a mine!”
Kate looked at her father, who said,
“There’ll be time for explanations later, let’s just get indoors for now.”
He helped his wife up into the jeep, then looked in bewilderment at the child’s bicycle that had been strapped to the back.
“What’s that there for?” he asked Smyth, who looked at Kate, who said,
“That’s Robert’s bike, he lent it to me. He lives in the house next door and I promised him I would bring it back safely.”
“Ah,” replied her father, getting into the jeep and fastening his seat belt, “thank you, Kate, that makes everything quite clear.”
The Doctor and his UNIT escort, their numbers increased by Yates, Benton and their men, approached the cave at the foot of the cliff with caution. When they were a few feet from the entrance, the Doctor waved the men back and whispered,
“Keep your guns down, we don’t want to invite bloodshed,” then stepped forward and said, in his usual ringing tones, “Silurians! We have come in peace and wish only to speak to you.”
There was no response. The UNIT troops looked at each other uncertainly, but held their position. The Doctor was about to speak again, when two cloaked figures came out of the cave. They lowered their hoods, revealing their faces. The first, who had been at the house and spoken to the Brigadier, said,
“You may have come in peace, Doctor, but your associates have not. Neither have we.” the Silurian took an object from under its cloak, a square box, with switches on the top. The Doctor looked aghast,
“Why have you chosen this path? Is there no chance that you could live alongside humanity?”
“None,” replied the Silurian. “Humanity should have perished from the plague our brethren unleashed, but it did not. Not all of us Silurians were foolish enough to believe your empty promises. We are scattered now and I was forced to use human agents to try and secure armaments. They have failed me. I will cede this victory to you and your humans (this word was hissed rather than said) but we will learn and we will not fail again.”
The Silurians turned and walked back into the cave. Captain Yates began to advance but the Doctor shouted, “Keep back!”
The next moment there was a shatteringly loud bang from inside the cave and the outer face of the cliff split and fractured and began to slide down towards the beach. The Doctor and the UNIT troops scattered as they fled the landslide. Eventually the tremors and movement stopped and the troops regrouped a safe distance away. The Doctor looked at the rubble that now completely covered the entrance to the cave and sighed. Sergeant Benton asked, “Doctor? Why did they do that?”
“To make sure we couldn’t follow them, Sergeant,” replied the Doctor, sighing again. “I fear the antagonism between humans and Silurians will exist for many years to come.”
The Doctor walked off along the beach, shaking his head. Captain Yates called the troops to order and led the way back to the jeeps, leaving three of the men on guard until the civilian authorities could be alerted and the site fenced off and assessed for the risk of further landslides.
The morning sun was glowing through the curtains when Kate woke the next day. For a moment, she was confused. She had been so tired the previous night that she didn’t remember going to bed, but she had, and Horace was there, so... She sat up as the memory of the previous day rushed into her mind. Turning back the covers, Kate got out of bed and crept across the landing to her parent’s bedroom. She stood in the doorway and looked in. Her father was lying on his back, snoring slightly. Her mother had put her hand on his chest and he was holding it while they slept. Kate ran back to her room, feeling as if she wanted to dance with happiness. She got back into bed and as she snuggled back down under the covers with Horace in her arms, she thought that perhaps this holiday might be going to be alright after all.