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Animal Investigators: Book 2
by S. P. Gates
When expert tracker Ellis is sent to investigate stories of greyhound poisoning, he is shocked to come face-to-face with a strange feral boy, and a pack of what seem to be ghostly dogs. Returning to the forest with his animal-mind-reading partner Meriel, he is plunged into danger by the wild boy’s lethal supernatural powers, which can freeze a man to death. Ellis’s only chance of rescue is Meriel, but she is caught up in reliving her own secret past as a feral child.
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 came skidding into the kitchen of the children’s care home. The cook looked up from the soup he was stirring.
“Hey,” the cook greeted the boy. “What’s your hurry? She after you again?”
She was the matron of the children’s care home. She hated the boy. She saw it as her personal duty to civilize him.
Leon the cook was his only protector. Every time the boy was in trouble with the matron, he ran to Leon in the kitchen. Or, sometimes, he ran to the kennel outside and curled up with Tyson, the care home dog.
The boy was about four years old. No one knew his age exactly because he’d been dumped, two years ago, outside the care home. He’d had a piece of paper pinned to his coat. It said, Look after him. His name is Blue.
That had annoyed the matron right away. “Why is he called Blue?” she’d said. “What kind of stupid name is that for a boy?”
Blue sat down at the kitchen table.
“Want a drink?” asked Leon.
Blue nodded. He could speak, as well as any other four year old. But he didn’t often choose to.
Leon poured Blue some milk into a plastic mug. The old man liked Blue. But even he had to admit that the boy was strange. Even stranger than the matron realized. She hated Blue because of his defiance – the way he stared at her with those icy blue eyes, as if she was something nasty he’d trodden in. But, if she’d known about what else he did, she’d have had a fit.
“Don’t try any of your tricks now,” Leon warned Blue. “She might come in. Remember, they’re a secret between you and me.”
Blue stared back at him. His eyes made even Leon shiver. They chilled you right through to the bone. Apart from that, he looked like a nice, normal little boy. His nails were kept clean, his hair short, his face well-scrubbed, like all the other care home kids.
But he wasn’t normal. Normal kids couldn’t do what Blue was doing now.
“Hey, I told you not to do that stuff,” said Leon. But it was no good. Blue never took any notice. He just stared at you and did what he liked. That’s what made Matron so mad, made her want to break his spirit.
Blue had turned his gaze to his milk. He stuck a spoon in it. Then fixed the mug with those frosty eyes. And the milk froze. It turned solid. Blue knocked it out of the mug onto the table. And using the spoon as a stick, he licked it, like a lollipop.
“How d’you do that?” the cook marvelled. Frost shimmered on the table too, as if Blue had made his own mini winter.
Blue shrugged. He had no idea where his strange powers came from.
“Heck of a party trick,” said the cook, shaking his head and grinning.
The kitchen door flew open. “What’s going on here?” Matron’s suspicious gaze swept round the kitchen. She saw Blue eating his lollipop. “Why aren’t you at school?” she demanded.
Blue shot her a scornful look, then wriggled out of the open kitchen window.
“That boy!” said the matron. “He’ll be the death of me.”
She caught up with Blue out in the yard. He’d gone to his second refuge, the dog kennel. He was curled up inside, with Tyson, the old Alsatian.
“Come out of there!” ordered Matron, kneeling down.
She reached into the kennel and hauled Tyson out, by his collar. It was a worn red collar, with a metal tag on it, engraved with his name and the care home address.
“You old bag of bones,” she said to Tyson. “It’s about time we had you put down. You’re half dead anyway.”
Then Matron made an even bigger mistake. In her bad temper, she slapped the old dog on the nose. Tyson yelped, piteously.
Blue came crawling out of the kennel. He stood up.
“Now I’ve got you,” said the matron. “And don’t stare at me like that! Like you want to kill me!”
But Blue never took his eyes off her. Suddenly, Matron felt the air around her getting chilly. Which was strange because it was a blazing hot summer’s day. She felt something cold on her lips, in her hair. White flakes whirled around her. Surely it couldn’t be? Not snowflakes? Then she was shivering, her teeth chattering. Her breath turned to crackling ice crystals. She watched in horror, as her own hands
A last crazy thought flashed through her head. So that’s why they named him Blue.
Then her eyes glazed over and she slumped to the ground.
Blue took one quick look at the matron’s body, dusted with snow. Then he said, “Come on, Tyson. Let’s go.”
The boy and the dog took off down the road. They crossed a bridge over a river. Then passed a sign that said, Welcome to Forest Edge. Please Drive Carefully.
Blue didn’t want to go to the town. He wanted to get as far away from people as possible. But, first, he took off his shirt and sweater, his socks, shoes and jeans, and put them in a neat pile on the riverbank.
Then he and Tyson turned right, went down a dirt track and plunged into the forest. Soon, the trees swallowed them up.
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