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Animal Investigators: Book 1
by S. P. Gates
Ellis is an expert tracker and Meriel can read the minds of animals – together they make a formidable team, investigating animal mysteries with a touch of the paranormal. When an army of gulls, led by the power-crazed Red Eye, wages war on a remote community, only they can help.
Key Stage: KS2/3 E; Age 9+ (info)
198 x 130mm
Susan Gates is a highly acclaimed and award-winning author, and says she has been writing stories ever since she could hold a pen. Susan taught, in both Africa and the UK, for over ten years before becoming a full-time author. But she says if there was one thing she could be, instead of being an author, it would be a rock guitarist!
The boy thought, I’ve made it!
He could hardly believe it. He touched the wounds on his neck and winced. He’d been seen by one of their sentries. They had eyes everywhere; watched everything you did. The sentry had attacked him savagely, slashed his neck, tried to drive him back to the town. But then the fog had come rolling in and saved him.
The boy was running now, through thick, white fog. He couldn’t see more than a metre ahead. He could hear waves crashing on either side of him, smell rotting seaweed. One wrong step and he’d be swept away. But he was okay – so long as he stayed on this narrow strip of land that curved out into the ocean like a crooked finger. That had his forgotten little town, Mackenzie Point, right on its very tip.
But even while he was thinking, I’ve escaped! he was still afraid. These days, everyone in Mackenzie Point lived in fear, terrified of breaking the rules, of being punished, or even disappeared, like the Mayor.
It was six kilometres to the mainland. Then he caught a bus, to Clayborough, the nearest big town. By the time the boy reached it, the fog had cleared. He looked round, amazed. He felt unreal. Everything here seemed so normal. He’d forgotten what that was like.
People in Clayborough were driving cars, shopping; kids were skateboarding. No one was shuffling around, scared even to lift their heads.
Suddenly the boy thought, What if they’ve followed me? Had the sentry seen which direction he’d taken, before the fog closed in? If he had, he’d have reported back to headquarters.
Shivering, the boy dared to lift his eyes, look into the sky. It was clear blue and empty. He couldn’t see them on the rooftops either. If they were hunting him down, that’s where they’d be. But he wasn’t reassured. Anyone who broke the rules suffered; he’d seen it with his own eyes. And when they took revenge, it was ruthless.
He scurried on, his heart racing.
He stood on the railway platform, waiting for the 8 a.m. fast train to the city. People gave him sneaky glances. Then he realized that, apart from his bleeding neck, he still had his crash helmet on.
He took it off, pulled up his collar to hide his injuries. Tried to look like normal. Like any kid on a holiday trip to the city, maybe to do some shopping, go to the cinema. But he couldn’t stop his hands shaking. His guts felt like a knot of worms. His eyes were flickering all over the place. He felt he was only just holding it together. He was scared for himself. But scared, as well, for his friends back in Mackenzie Point. They could be punished, because he’d escaped. And if they tried to hide, someone would inform on them. That’s what it was like in his town now. You couldn’t trust anyone. Not even your own relatives.
He wanted to blurt out to these people: “I’m from Mackenzie Point. Do you know what’s happening to us out there?”
How could they seem so happy, so unconcerned? Going about their daily business, when, in his town, they were living a nightmare?
But he didn’t breathe a word. There was only one person he was going to tell. One person who’d helped him before in a life or death situation. Who’d given him wise advice. He was going to the city now, to find him.
The train appeared round a curve in the track, slid into Clayborough station.
He’ll help us, thought the boy, as he climbed aboard with the other passengers. Professor Talltrees will know what to do.
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