Directions

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Fantasy, Magic
Tags: , , , , ,

Black_carMarty was jogging along Church Street. He had no intention of being late for football training again. Last time, Mr Bennett had lectured him about punctuality and Marty didn’t want to get another earful. A car slowed down beside him, the passenger’s window slid down a crack. “Boy! How do I get to North Strand?” The voice sounded old, rather croaky, and not in the least friendly. Marty didn’t look over, mechanically answered “Keep straight on until The Square, cross it, turn right, turn left twice, when you get to the point where you can go either left or right – you have reached North Strand.” The car picked up speed and was already forgotten.

As usual, football training was fun. The kids were aged 9 to 12. There were always some parents who supported the good mood by providing snacks. It was a bright October day, just a slight chill in the air. The grown-ups gratefully sipped their coffee, the kids indulged in heavenly hot chocolate. After training, Sadie’s mother invited Marty to give him a ride home. Home meant their neighbouring houses in Holmpatrick, currently sporting a real autumnal feeling. Marty’s father, a painter, loved painting autumnal pictures. He also did spring coloured paintings. They must be good as he easily earned his living by selling them.

At home, Marty got rid of his sports gear, put on his favourite pair of jeans and a sufficiently clean shirt. Before going out again, a stop to the fridge was mandatory for a 12-year-old boy. The phone started ringing. “Get that phone, please,” his father called. Marty picked up the phone. His tentative “Hello?” was answered by utter silence. “Hello?!” Still nothing. He shrugged, tapped the ‘end call’ button and continued in the direction of the kitchen. His father questioningly looked up from the paint brushes he was cleaning. “Nothing, dad. Only silence.” His father furrowed his brow. “This must have been the ninth or tenth time today.”

Brona was preparing supper. Apparently, the O’Rourke’s were in for some spicy Indian dishes. Marty was glad that his sister had taken over the kitchen. She was 17 and hoping to become a famous pescatarian chef one day. No need to check the fridge. Marty grabbed a banana, peeled it, gulped it down. Brona was used to this sight. She just grinned and continued chopping the vegetables. Marty waved at her and ran outside to grab his bicycle an meet his best friend Brian at the Skerries Mills (http://www.skerriesmills.org/) parking lot. A glance at his watch told Marty he might again be late. He started pedalling like a pro. Right before reaching his goal, a car heading in his direction slowed, the driver’s window slid down a little. “Boy! How do I get to North Strand?” The voice sounded old, rather croaky, and not in the least friendly. Marty didn’t look over, mechanically answered “Keep straight on turn left, when you get to the point where you can go either left or right – turn left, follow the road until you can go either left or right and – you have reached North Strand.” The car picked up speed. As it dawned on Marty, that he had been asked the same questions earlier that day, the car was already gone. A shiver started up his spine. He got off his bicycle, knees wobbly.

“Hey, what’s the matter with you, Marty! I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes!” Brian had been circling the parking lot and then decided to look out for his friend. When he came closer, he saw Marty’s ashen face. “What’s happened – you look like you have seen a ghost!” Marty asked Brian if he had seen the driver of the car that had just left the parking lot. Brian looked at him as if he were mad. “There was no car in the parking lot apart from Roddy’s – and he is still inside.” Marty gawked at him, knees giving in he sank to the ground. “Have some water.” Brian handed him the bottle. Count on Brian to always carry a bottle of sparkling water. “What about the car you just mentioned?” Marty took another gulp of water and told Brian about the – now mysterious – car and the less than friendly driver enquiring about the way to North Strand. Then, remembering the mysterious phone calls at home, he felt even more nauseous. “There have been phone calls! There was no sound!”

Brian padded Marty’s shoulder. “Let’s get going, lad.” – “Go where?” – “North Strand!” Brian was in his typical adventurous mood. Marty looked down. He knew he wasn’t exactly the courageous type. Brian grinned, as if he could read Marty’s thoughts. “Stuff that CenterShock in your mouth and mount your bicycle!” They set off. It took only minutes to reach North Strand. The boys halted and looked around. Nothing unusual. The usual people, the usual vehicles – not one single black car. Marty had suddenly remembered the colour, not the make, though. “Where is this guy? And – why is he constantly asking for North Strand?” With these questions Marty was about to tell Brian to follow North Stand and turn right into Strand Street to go back home when he heard an idling motor in the dune. “Do you hear that?” – “Hear what?” – “The idling motor behind these bushes!” Brian did not hear anything. He leaned his bicycle against a bush and surrounded a group of bushes. Marty quickly followed him. There were seals in the water, no boats were in sight. Two families were down at the beach, they were playing with a brightly spotted ball.

Marty listened. The sound had vanished. He turned to the right and saw a black toy car half hidden in the sand. It was one of these expensive cars handled via remote control. The window on the driver’s side was partially open. Marty carefully pulled the car out of the sand and the weeds. It seemed like a replica of the car that had bothered him already twice. “Wow!” Brian exclaimed. “This is a brand new model of a classic car! This is awesome!” He took it from Marty’s hands and stared at it in awe. Marty shrugged and continued his way around the bushes. There was a shoe under the weeds. As he got closer he realised that there was a foot in the shoe. He shoved the weeds aside and saw a little girl of about seven. She didn’t move. There were teardrops on her face, her breathing was shallow, and her right ankle looked rather unhealthy. Marty looked over his shoulder, motioned Brian to come closer. As he approached, Marty showed him the little girl. “I’ll get Doc Jones,” Brian whispered and ran towards the street. Marty took off his jacket and wrapped it around the girl. She opened her eyes, looked at him, smiled a little.

The sound of many steps and agitated voices came closer. Brian came back and had not only Doc Jones in tow. “For heaven’s sake! Fírinne! Her parents have been looking for her for hours!” Doc Jones handed his assistant Nóinín his cell phone. “Please ring them immediately!” He assessed the situation and praised Marty’s insight. “Excellent idea to keep her warm, boy.” Her ankle was broken. “That’s a so called comminuted fracture,” he explained. “This has to be treated with utmost care. Fortunately, the ambulance is already on the way.” – “Why didn’t Nóinín shout for help?” Doc Jones looked Marty in the eyes. “She stopped speaking 10 months ago, when her grandfather died. He was a little strange. Always driving around in his classic car, bellowing orders, always edgy. When Nóinín was around he was completely different. He always smiled, gave her this expensive toy car for her birthday. This little girl adored her grandfather.” – “Did…” Marty hesitated. “Did her grandfather have a rather croaky voice?” Doc Jones nodded. The ambulance arrived and Nóinín was carefully moved on to a padded stretcher. As Doc Jones entered the ambulance he turned around. “Go home boys. You will already be missed.” Marty and Brian retrieved their bicycles and drove home in silence.

There were no more creepy phone calls at Marty’s house. The black car never reappeared.

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